Indeed, a church is far more than just
a dwelling made up of brick and mortar, it is the embodiment of the spirit
of Christ: Catholic families in the area, "Rejoice, the Kingdom of God
is at hand."
Prior to 1932, Catholic families in
the area, Catholic students at the Normal School, and Catholics among the
summer vacationers went to St. Anthony's at Cambridge Springs where Fr.
Simpson was assisted by his nephew, Fr. Dwyer, or to St. Phillip's at Crossingville.
Then just a "missionary stop" for diocesan priests whose responsibilities
were to celebrate Sunday Mass for the handful of Catholic families and
students, the Catholic "church" in Edinboro, from 1932 to 1949 consisted
of a make-shift altar
located in a double classroom in Loveland Hall
located on the campus of Edinboro State Teachers College. Several
priests from the Diocese, along with Fr. Dwyer from Cambridge Springs,
took turns celebrating Mass. In 1949, William Flynn, Al Herrmann and Aimee
Doucette, as an official delegation, sought permission from Bishop John
Mark Gannon of Erie to initiate the construction of a church. After obtaining
the necessary consent, their first purpose was to obtain an appropriate
landsight. Harry Engh, owner of Culbertson Hills Country Club, not only
donated the considerable property on Maple Drive, but gave them an additional
$1000 toward the construction costs. Much later, when the church was completed,
Engh proceeded, with the help of some personal friends, to provide the
After the initial excitement created
by the acquisition of the property, the families were faced with the unavoidable
and arduous task of raising money to continue. Donations were collected
among members themselves and the townspeople. To subsidize the contributions,
the women of the member families involved themselves in the usual money-making
projects of bake sales, rubbish collections, dinners, bazaars, raffles,
and card parties until most of the $50,000 needed was raised.
On May 28, 1950, ground was broken
for the church building of "concrete block construction along New England
colonial architectural lines with a seating capacity of 325."
Edinboro has always been primarily a
farming area. In the springtime ground was broken and turned over in preparation
for planting, so that the older, more seasoned soil could serve to nourish
the new seedlings to be planted. When Rev. Harry A Simpson consecrated
and broke the ground that Spring in 1950, he, in similarity to the farmer,
was repositioning the past ideas and ways that they might give impetus
to new beginnings.
The church was designed by architect
Oscar Brenot of Erie. It was decided that the ground plan was to be in
the shape of a cross and that there would be a steeple with a cross on
the top. It was most important that the design be as authentically colonial
as possible to coincide with the general design of most of the buildings
and homes in the town.
Although the actual construction work
was contracted, most of the labor was done by men, women and children of
the parish family.
On August 6 of that year the cornerstone was laid by Bishop Gannon. By autumn the shell of the church was completed, and the knotty pine interior was finished.
St.Severin at Drifting near Morrisdale
donated a statue of Jesus, pews, lights, a collection box and a beautiful
antique crib set, hand painted in Germany. St. Bridget's Church in Meadville
donated two statues. Although they have since been refinished, these statues
are still in the church at Edinboro.
Bloom, a woodcraftsman who lived on
the lake, made the lectern, Bible stand, first bench used by the altar
boys and the crucifix which is still in the sacristy. The altar was hand
carved by Tellers Organ in Erie, where the first organ, a pipe organ, was
also made. Al Herrmann donated the Stations of the Cross and William Keyser
built the frames around them. Keyser also donated and built the intricate
cabinet that is in the sacristy and used for storing vestments and altar
Work continued day and night, and was
completed in time for the First Mass to be celebrated by the Rev. George
Dwyer on the Feast of Christ the King, October 29, 1950. At that time,
the building was designated to be a chapel which constituted a mission
of St. Anthony's Church, Cambridge Springs, with the Rev. Harry A. Simpson
On May 28, 1953, Bishop John
Mark Gannon raised the Mission of Our Lady of the Lake to the canonical
status of a parish and the Rev. Dwyer was named its founding pastor.
By 1960, the parish, which consisted
of only 50 families when the church was erected, had grown to 165 families,
and served almost 700 Catholic students at the college and an increased
number of summer vacationers. An active Newman Club was supervised by Rev.
Fr. Dwyer's health was failing, so he
could no longer keep the pace his responsibilities demanded. In June
1959, Msgr. James Gannon assumed the duties of pastor and in February,
1960, was appointed as administrator of Our Lady of the Lake.
In May, 1960, ground was broken by
Monsignor Gannon, for a new addition, 120 by 60 feet, to be attached
to the rear of the church facing Sunset Drive. This structure is our
present Parish Center which was dedicated on October 29, 1961, the
eleventh anniversary of the church. A very functional building, it
serves as church-extension, social hall, and gymnasium where many church
barbecues, sauerkraut and pork dinners, smorgasbord spreads, wedding receptions,
Thanksgiving dinners, and breakfasts were and are presently being held.
From 1960 to 1965, many changes occurred.
A mother's room was added inside the front entrance, and a choir loft was
built on the second floor. A side altar was built, where the organ and
choir had stood previously, to house the relic of the true Cross which
Msgr. Gannon had brought back from Rome. The statue of the infant was placed
there on an Italian marble pedestal donated by Fr. Dwyer's mother.
Although Msgr. Gannon stayed a relatively
short time he was greatly loved by his parishioners. They reluctantly let
him go in 1965 to assume the position as pastor of St. Andrew's Church
Father Francis P. Tushim was appointed
pastor in May of 1965 with Father Robert F. Bower, his assistant and
Newman Club chaplain. They faced an exploding student population of over
3,000 students and the church parking lot became a test of Christian patience
before and after Sunday Mass. The house and property on Sunset Drive, which
now serves as the rectory, were purchased, and a brick facing was placed
on the Church and Social Center.
Father Tushim found it necessary to
oversee many alterations in the church due to the changes in the Liturgy,
such as the transition from the standard Latin Mass to the English Mass
with more participation on the part of the congregation.
The altar was dismantled and replaced
by a simple oak table-type altar. The altar railing was entirely removed.
Sliding doors had already been installed behind the altar, opening into
the Parish Center.
The smaller electric organ was replaced
with a beautiful large one, and the vestibule and aisles were carpeted.
The expansion of Edinboro College and
the rapid growth of the town itself made a Newman Apostolate near the college
imperative. In the fall of 1970, a Newman Center was built on
the campus thereby easing the pressure of numbers, and Fr. Bower was
assigned there along with Fr. Leon Doleski, who served as Campus Minister
Fr. Tushim remained as sole pastor of
Our Lady of the Lake until May, 1972 when he left to take a position as
pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Mercer.
Rev. John Danszewski, Fr. Dan
as he was affectionately called, served but a short time as pastor
of Our Lady of the Lake from May 1972 until July 1973.
Rev. Edward Q. Franz, Ph.D.,
was appointed in July, 1973. He continued in the tradition of family-centered
parish activities with a dynamic participation on the part of everyone.
The membership of the parish had taken a sudden leap in new members due
to so many people moving into the Edinboro area. To make it easier to get
acquainted with newcomers and to keep in touch with old friends, the parish
successfully instituted a coffee and social hour following Sunday Mass.
Qualified lay people joined priests
and sisters in providing the religious education of the children. Classroom
space was provided by dividing the area in the balcony of the Center. Classes
were also held on the floor of the Center by using dividers to separate
In 1974, Larry Herrmann constructed
a brick base in the churchyard for a new statue of Our Lady, which was
placed there for the 25th Anniversary ceremonies in 1975. The
Altar and Rosary Society purchased this statue with funds from individual
donors combined with their own.
Pope John XXIII dusted off the old traditions
of Catholicism and opened the doors to the fresh air of the Ecumenical
Council. In willing obedience, the Catholic church gave up many precious
ornamental furnishings and private modes of worship in the spirit of simplicity
and more communal devotion. Music and art made the folk Mass a moving religious
On Columbus Day, October 12, 1982,
Fr. Franz, having served faithfully and well for over nine years, was assigned
to teach again at Gannon University and to reside at St. Joseph Parish
in Erie, and Fr. Leon Muroski came to Our Lady of the Lake. Fr.
Muroski spent seven years as a teacher at St. Mark's Seminary and 15 years
as Vicar for Vocations for the Diocese of Erie. During this time he was
instrumental in the education process of 4,000 young men, and was able
to see some 130 of his candidates enter the priesthood.
Fr. Muroski came to Edinboro as the
Pastor of the Edinboro Catholic Community. His task, together with the
associate pastor, Fr. Bower, was to further enhance unity, peace and understanding.
Guided by their deep love for all people, as well as their many and varied
talents, a united Catholic Community was formed. This is reflected in each
parishioner's genuine concern for one another, as well as for the community
One of Fr. Muroski's first tasks was
to organize the governing body of the Parish. An interim council was formed
in November 1982, the new Constitution was accepted in February 6, 1983,
and the first Parish Council meeting was held April 14, 1983.
In January 1983 Our Lady of the Lake
welcomed Sr. Rose Anne Fedorko as the Director of Religious Education and
aide to Fr. Bower in Campus Ministry. She, in conjunction with the Religious
Education Committee, guided the Religious Education program for the parish
from Nursery School through Grade 12. Sister also assisted Fr. Bower with
the Catholic college students on campus.
In order to accommodate Sr. Rose Anne
with living quarters, the parish remodeled the rental property on Maple
In January 1986, Sr. Rose Anne decided
to continue her ministry in Washington, D.C. Pat Baker, chairperson of
the Religious Education Committee, assumed her duties.
One of Father Mursoki's priorities was
teaching the Word of Christ. His homilies reflected his great knowledge
of and love for Scripture. In order to teach as many people as he could
about following Christ, Father started an Adult Education class in September,
1983, held in conjunction with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Under the Family Ministries Committee
of Parish Council, Our Lady of the Lake hosts sessions of Pre-Cana meetings
every year. Each session accommodates between 25 and 50 engaged couples.
Its purpose is to prepare engaged couples with some practical as well as
spiritual insight into married life. This is an all day experience with
speeches, discussions, movies and activities. Married couples in our parish
conduct the entire program.
The organizations in our parish include
the Knights of Columbus, Newman Club, Altar and Rosary Society, and Youth
Group, which all contribute greatly toward supporting the parish both financially
Our Lady of the Lake has been genuinely
concerned with and actively involved in the needs of the entire community.
The Edinboro Food Bank was founded in April, 1983. A recycling program
is in effect, and the "Thrifty Threads" operates in the former rectory
on Maple Drive.
Father Muroski, with the approval of Council, computerized the parish in October, 1985. All church records are now stored in the computer, which facilitates all reporting and record keeping duties.
Erie Bishop Michael Murphy invited all
interested parishes in the diocese to take part in the Renew program during
information night at St. Peter's Cathedral Center November 13, 1985. Our
Lady of the Lake parish had the largest delegation with 28 interested parishioners
In August, 1986, Sister Mary Frances
Humenay became Campus Minister. After much input and many contributions,
Sister departed in February, 1997, to assume the position of Campus Minister
at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.
In June, 1992, Pat Baker resigned
as Religious Education Director after years of excellent leadership. Sister.
Mary Frances assumed the position of Administrator of Religious Education
William Fischer joined Our Lady of the Lake on July
6, 1992 as Campus Minister. He left to teach at Erie Cathedral Prep
High School July 13, 1993.
Father Philip Oriole was selected
to replace Father Fischer as Campus Minister, arriving August1, 1993.
He departed June 30, 1994 for St. John the Baptist Church in Erie.
Father Bower was appointed Pastor of
St. Anthony's in Cambridge Springs August 31, 1993.
Father Mark Nowak arrived July 1,
1994 to assume the position of Campus Minister and continues to ably
fulfill that role presently.
Father Muroski's departure in August
1995 fittingly was recognized during an early "Parish Picnic". Such picnics
have since become a popular annual tradition. He left to work at "The Christophers"
in New York City.
Father John Jacquel was welcomed
to our parish November 2, 1995, and quickly assumed responsibility.
He enthusiastically leads our parish into the 21st Century.
In February, 1996, "small church
communities" were formed for scripture and faith sharing and prayer.
They planned and led retreat opportunities for the benefit of all, and
celebrated during annual picnics.
Arkadelphia, Arkansas was leveled by
tornados March 1, 1997. A tractor was loaded with "Arkansas Relief" and
put on the road as soon as possible. Our Lady of the Lake volunteers were
among those who arrived March 23, 1997 (Palm Sunday) in Arkansas
to deliver desperately needed supplies.
The Knights of Columbus had relocated
their meeting site to the basement of the present rectory on Sunset Drive
by the end of 1996, allowing the ever-growing "Thrifty Threads"
to expand their operation to include the entire Maple Drive facility January
Our "Long Range Planning Initiative"
began in earnest under the leadership of Harry Samol in
The members did fact finding during the summer of 1998. A Long Range
Planning Group was commissioned and began to meet February 8, 1999.
Sister Mary Ann White arrived July,
1997 as Director of Religious Education, and after a short but effective
tenure, left in June, 2000, for St. Stanislaus in Erie.
In 1997, there was an initiative
to establish the position of Director of Youth Ministry. From a
selection of quality applicants, Mrs. Lin Gabriel became the first
Ms. Marcy Fessler replaced Sister
Mary Ann as Director of Religious Education in July, 2000.
Many Baptisms, First Holy Communions, Conversions, Confirmations, Marriages, and Funerals have taken place in the friendly confines of Our Lady of the Lake Church and Newman Center. Parishioners have laughed and cried together sharing happiness and grief. They've rallied to support one another in times of need. The church parking lot has been enlarged to accommodate the multitude of vehicles which carry the masses to the Masses. The Parish Center underwent an expansion which provided an additional needed six classrooms for Religious Education.
Parish Council proved to be instrumental in the continual development of the parish and evolved into the Pastoral Council as of February 1996. Committees like the Social Concerns Committee and organizations such as the Altar and Rosary Society and Knights of Columbus have provided many valuable services.
The "Weekly Bulletin" and the newsletter, "Just-For-A-Minute" have been published to keep the Catholic community of Edinboro always informed of the trends and developments in the parish. "Just-For-A-Minute" changed its format and title to "Canticle" effective September 1999.
As one of many services to the community
in general, Our Lady of the Lake provides space for "Mothers of Preschoolers"
We have been truly blessed in our parish
with priests exemplary in their priesthood. We thank God for them and pray
for them daily. We trust our Lord to direct and guide us both individually
and collectively on our journey toward God.
Many material advancements have been
accomplished within these past fifty years of which the "families" of Our
Lady of the Lake parish can be justly proud. The goal of the future lies
in a spiritual uniting in a total communal relationship the separate family
units working together as inter-familial relationships for the purpose
of perpetuating the spiritual growth of the whole. This ideal, it would
seem, is not only the least of what we as a parish family might strive
to achieve, but is also a fitting memorial to Our Blessed Mother in her
devotion to her Son, Christ the King, and the spirit of those early parish
families. It was those families who made it their business to create for
us a home where we might realize this growth as one family-one among many
under the guidance of Rev. Alfred. M. Watson, D.D., Bishop of Erie, and
now under Bishop Donald Trautman.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude
to the courageous, dauntless people who started our parish, to those who
maintained it over the years and to the truly generous folks who keep it
alive and growing today-both in front of and behind the scenes! It would
be easier to pass out parish directories than try to list all of
these exciting people - you know who you are; we know who you are; God
knows who you are! Thank you and may God continue to bless us all.
Historical data researched and written by James Wudarczyk, Pasquale Angelo, Father Edward Franz, Hazel Snyder, Joseph Ondrey, Aimee Doucette, Hugh Jennings, Jack Egloff, Mrs. William P. Flynn, Father Leon Muroski, Father John Jacquel, and Ron Sturga. This history was updated for the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of Our Lady of the Lake Church held October 29, 2000, with Bishop Donald W. Trautman, presiding.