Our Parish History
In 1981, in response to the phenomenal growth of Catholics in northwest Georgia, Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan decreed the establishment of a new parish in Kennesaw, Georgia. Fr. Leo Herbert was appointed the founding Pastor. In May 1981, all Kennesaw area Catholics met to discuss the new parish and 90 families registered. After prayerful consideration, St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), doctor of the Church credited with restoring unity to the Catholic Church following the Great Schism of 1378, was selected as patroness of the new parish.
Fr. Herbert celebrated the first parish Mass at 5:30pm on Saturday, June 13, 1981, in space shared with the Kennesaw United Methodist Church in downtown Kennesaw. Shortly thereafter, the Methodist church moved to its current location on Ben King Road, and the Archdiocese of Atlanta acquired the Cherokee Street property. Parishioners formed new ministries - Ladies’ Guild, Men’s Club, Teen Ministry, PSR (CCD), Choir, Altar Society, Liturgy Committee, and St. Vincent dePaul Society.
By 1983 St. Catherine’s was the fastest growing parish in the Archdiocese and, by 1985, a fundraising drive had begun and pledges reached over $530,000. Archbishop Donnellan celebrated the groundbreaking on the current site on October 6, 1986. The new church, chapel, and narthex were dedicated on September 16, 1987. Later that year, the multipurpose building, Herbert Hall, was completed.
Rev. Terence Kane was appointed the second pastor of St. Catherine’s in 1990, and the parish continued to grow and thrive under his watch. In 1997, Rev. James Harrison became St. Catherine’s third pastor. In response to the continued growth in the Kennesaw area, groundbreaking began in 1998 for the new Our Lady of Grace Building, designed to provide classrooms for St. Catherine of Siena’s Preschool and Parish School of Religion.
With the addition of OLG Building, St. Catherine’s was uniquely positioned to accept a new Catholic elementary school. St. Catherine of Siena school opened in August 2002, sharing classroom space with the Preschool while the current facility was built. Mrs. Robyn Planchard was the first principal. Upon her retirement in 2004, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia were welcomed to the school as administrators and teachers. Sr. Maria Goretti, O.P., was the new principal and oversaw the opening of the new school facility in September 2005.
The Rev. N. Brendan Doyle became the fourth pastor of St. Catherine’s in the summer of 2005. Under his leadership the church underwent its first major renovation since its construction. A major addition to the Sanctuary was made of the hand-carved Italian crucifix in 2008. St. Catherine of Siena school had its first graduating class of eighth graders in the spring of 2008.
In 2009, Rev. John M. Matejek, was named the fifth pastor of St. Catherine’s. Fr. John was a St. Catherine’s parishioner prior to entering the priesthood. On New Year’s Day 2010, Fr. John dedicated the parish to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 2011, as a part of the parish’s 30th anniversary, the St. Catherine of Siena statue was added to the narthex.
In 2016, Rev. Neil Dhabliwala was assigned as the sixth pastor of St. Catherine’s. Fr. Neil realized the need for additional ministry and event space on campus. He formed a Capital Planning committee. The members identified three areas to address with a Capital Campaign: increasing the capital reserve, paying off the $2 million debt, and building a parish hall. With the support of the Capital Planning Committee, Fr. Neil launched a Capital Campaign to raise $4 million to meet the identified needs. In May 2018 on the tenth anniversary of Fr. Neil’s priestly ordination, the groundbreaking of the parish hall took place. The parish hall building was completed in April of 2019.
Under Fr. Neil's care, St. Catherine of Siena parish continues to grow and thrive through its parishioners, who are dedicated to the Holy Eucharist through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God.
Below: artistic rendering of our original temporary church on Cherokee Street in downtown Kennesaw (formerly Kennesaw United Methodist) and our current church buildings.