A Brief History of Our Parish
-St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church was established as a mission by the Redemptorists (C.S.s.R.) in 1948. The first Holy Mass was celebrated in a private home in the Lakeview community.
-The Redemptorist Order purchased several plots of land which had been part of the U. S. Army base of Ft. Oglethorpe when the base closed.
-These purchases included several buildings located near the current Polo Field. The Officers' Club became St. Gerard School, which began in the early 1950's and continued in operation until 1969. The School Sisters of Notre Dame (S.S.N.D.) operated and staffed the school along with several lay teachers and taught grades 1 - 8. The school had an excellent academic reputation and consistently ranked in the top 3% of schools in the nation. There were tennis courts, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, a softball field and the only swimming pool in the area. The school closed in 1969 due to falling enrollment, but the pool remained until the city of Ft. Oglethorpe built a public pool. Two barracks on the church grounds had orignally housed members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC's) and these were converted into apartments, many of which were rented to parishioners.
-The convent for the School Sisters and the rectory were located on Barnhardt Circle, just a few minutes walk from both the church and the school. The convent was in a converted Officer's Quarters building which was a duplex. One side was the convent and the other was rented to parishioners. The rectory was located in the Band building and was quite spacious.
-Our church building was originally the chapel for the military base and the grounds had several other buildings as well. A Post Office and Saddlery were adjacent to the church. Since Ft. Oglethorpe was the home to the U. S. Army's 6th Cavalary, a Saddlery was crucial. Another parishioner apartment was located in the rear of the Saddlery building. The foundations of these buildings remain today. The original base "Mess Hall" was used by our parish as a social hall for many years. Many church dinners and dances were held there until the building was rented for other uses, including a piano refurbishing shop which remained in business until the early 1970's. Directly behind our church were 3 buildings that were stables and warehouses, which were also converted into living space for parishioners.
-St. Gerard Majella was only one of several missions sponsored by the Redemptorists that pastored our parish. One was in Grffith, Georgia, just south of Summerville which was a thriving mission for several years. Another mission was in LaFayette, which also continued for many years. The most 'successful' mission of our parish was on Lookout Mountain and which intially met in an old casino. This mission later became the current parish of Our Lady of the Mount. All three missions were successful, in part, due to the blessing of having both a pastor and an associate pastor in residence at our church. When the number of available priests declined in the '60's and '70's, and with the departure of the School Sisters of Notre Dame once the school had closed, our mission churches dissolved. The school, convent, and rectory were eventually sold and the school building later burned. All of the buildings on the church grounds, save for the church itself, were demolished and the proceeds from the sale of of the Polo Ground properties were used to build the current rectory and parish hall.
-In 1996, the Archdiocese of Atlanta assumed leadership of the parish and the Redemptorist Order left the area. Since then, our parish has been served by priests of the Archdiocese.
-A major remodeling of the church building was completed in 2002.