The congregation at Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain, fills the refurbished church on the day of its rededication Mass last month. The parish of 1,200 families is made up of people from nearly 60 different countries from around the world. Photo By Michael Alexander

This is what the Corpus Christi Church looks like in 2016 after its external and internal renovation. The architect was Smith Boland of Smyrna and the contractor was Moeller Purcell Construction Co. of Alpharetta. Photo by Michael Alexander


By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published on November 17, 2016

STONE MOUNTAIN – Members of Corpus Christi Church at Stone Mountain thank you for the recent renovations that are both energy efficient and beneficial.

Bishop Luis R. Zarama celebrated a new consecration mass in the parish on October 23rd. The pastor of Corpus Christi, Father Paschal Amagba, the pastor emeritus Father Gregory Kenny and the associate pastor Father Alex Gaitan concelebrated. All priests are members of the Claretian Religious Congregation. Father Kidanemariam Hadgu Gebrehiwot, pastor of the Catholic Geez rite community, which venerates on Corpus Christi, also concelebrated the mass. Mass took place almost 42 years after the church was originally dedicated on October 20, 1974.

Eight-year-old Alexia Whitehead joins the members of the children’s choir attending the parish mass at the rededication. The Burmese, Filipino, Gospel, Spanish and traditional choirs also came together as one choir during the liturgy. Diane Ross directed the children’s choir. Photo by Michael Alexander

Children led the procession into mass by placing flags representing the home of the parishioners in a basket.

“We have come together to rededicate our Church, but you are the Church,” said Father Amagba. “There is no place like Corpus Christi.”

In his sermon, Bishop Zarama confirmed that the worship room with its new floor and windows looks bigger and brighter.

“Why do you have that today? Because of you, ”he said. “They wanted to sacrifice a little to make this place beautiful.”

Let us also ask how beautiful our inner life can be, said the bishop.

“How is the temple of my body? How is the temple of my soul? He invites us all to think about it; How beautiful do we want to be? Not physically, but spiritually, ”he said. “The church can be beautiful, but without you it is nothing.”

Often, Bishop Zarama said, people pray for others to change instead of praying to be a source of love and reveal Jesus to others.

Parishioners Frances Spinelli and Libby Walsh served as co-chairs of the construction project. Walsh has been a member of Corpus Christi for 20 years, Spinelli for 10 years.

“Everyone is enthusiastic about the renovation. We now have beautiful tile floors in the sanctuary, new upholstery, lights, paint and carpets on the altar, ”said Spinelli on behalf of Walsh. “Nice additions to the church are two stained glass windows on the transepts. They are designed to work with the more modern architecture of our 40+ year old buildings. “

The exterior and windows of all campus buildings are new and weatherproof. The exterior of the building is made of energy-efficient stucco. The new LED lighting helps with energy consumption.

“We have revitalized the entrance square with a portico and a bell tower as well as a carillon system. We hope to be able to add benches and trees in the near future, ”added Spinelli.

The new bells ring 10 minutes before each mass every day.

Church includes people from 60 countries

The idea behind the renovation was to create a more welcoming environment for the 1,200 family members and guests. Corpus Christi parishioners represent more than 60 countries around the world with large numbers of refugees.

Disabled toilets are another modification of the church structure.

The congregation at the Corpus Christi Church in Stone Mountain fills the renovated church on the day of their dedication service last month.  The community of 1,200 families is made up of people from almost 60 different countries from around the world.  Photo by Michael Alexander

The congregation at Stone Mountain Church of Corpus Christi fills the renovated church on the day of their dedication service last month. The community of 1,200 families consists of people from almost 60 different countries from around the world. Photo by Michael Alexander

The building committee began exploring a new roof for the church and gymnasium buildings in 2012. The community replaced both the roofs and rooftop air conditioners and decided it was an opportune time to make improvements to weatherproof and revitalize the structures.

The committee selected Smith Boland as the architectural firm and began working with Randy Hood of Catholic Construction Services in the Archdiocese to devise an affordable project.

A capital campaign launched in October 2014 raised $ 1.1 million of the $ 1.7 million required for a multi-phase project.

Moeller Purcell Construction Co. was the contractor whose construction began in January.

Contributions are required for additional project phases and can be directed to the Corpus Christi Capital Campaign Fund.

Spinelli pointed out that Smith Boland’s master plan has three priority phases.

“What we’ve done this year is the first phase – the most important task is to modernize the buildings so that they can withstand further aging. We want to do more interior work as outlined in the second and third phases of our master plan, ”she said.

Other proposed projects are the renovation of the kitchen of the parish gymnastics room – the center of many social activities in the parish – the updating of the school camp and the renovation of the administrative offices.

“The happiest bishop”

At the ceremony, Father Gaitan read out a letter from Claretian Father John Molyneux, who was pastor when the capital city campaign began.

“Thanks to you, an idea, a dream has become a reality,” wrote Father Molyneux.

The priest, now serving in Chicago, thanked the construction, capital campaign, and finance committees, as well as those who have made large and modest donations or participated in numerous fundraisers.

“This would not have happened without your commitment, enthusiasm and love for the church,” the letter says. “This renovated building and worship room is yours. Use it with respect and joy. “

As the mass ended, Bishop Zarama said that the multicultural celebration was reaffirmed as one church.

“I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit exists. You must be proud of what you have, ”Bishop Zarama told parishioners.

He added that it was one of the most beautiful masses that he had celebrated as a bishop.

“Thank you, thank you very much for making me the happiest bishop in the world today,” he said.

“It’s very, very exciting. It’s like coming back home, ”said Father Amagba of the renovated room.

He said it was not just a physical renewal but also “a renewal of our baptismal call.”