A Brief History of St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church
In 1995, Archbishop John F. Donoghue announced a second mission to be formed from the ever growing St. John Neumann Parish in Lilburn, Georgia.
On September 17, 1995, at 9:00 a.m. the first Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jim Fennessy, assisted by Deacons Evelio Garcia-Carreras and Gary Womack at Parkview High School Cafeteria on Cole Dr. Approximately 300 parishioners and guests attended. It was after that first Mass that the name “St. Stephen the Martyr” was selected by those present and later approved by the Archbishop.
Three days later on September 20, 1995, 15.7 acres located at the northeast corner of Wydella Rd. and Rockbridge Road was purchased for the new St. Stephen the Martyr mission.
For the first four months only one Sunday Mass was celebrated each week. In January, 1996 a second Mass was added to allow for the needs of the growing community. In 1996, A nearby house on 382 Rockbridge Rd was purchased to be the future rectory.
In June 1996, Fr. Patrick “Paddy” Donaghey was assigned as a Parochial Vicar at St. John Neumann and immediately became the priest in residence at St. Stephen the Martyr Mission. He would eventually become the founding pastor.
During those early years, Sunday Masses were held at Parkview High School. Daily Masses were held in the family room at the Lilburn rectory. Occasionally, Holy Day Masses were celebrated at Horis Ward Funeral Home in Mountain Park.
St. Stephens officially became a Parish and the ground breaking for the new church building occurred on June 24, 1999.
The Roof Blessing Ceremony was held on Palm Sunday April 16, 2000. The First Mass at the new church was celebrated on August 5, 2000.
The church, with a capacity of about 400, initially included front and back sacristies, five classrooms, a fellowship hall with adjoining kitchen (which can be divided into four classrooms), a nursery/classroom, administrative offices, and offices for the Pastor and the Parish Manager. The St. Joseph classroom was redesigned to provide offices for the Director of Religious Education and the Life Teen Director as well as a space for the church library. In those early years, maintenance, lawn care, teaching, social events, and office work, were mainly provided by volunteers – truly a sign of willingness to serve God by serving in our community.
In June 20, 2013, Fr. Paddy retired as Pastor and returned to Ireland.
Fr. Brian Lorei was assigned as our new pastor on July 1, 2013. Previously he served as Parochial Vicar at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur, GA.
Currently there are over 500 registered families.