Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

Our Lady of the Lake/St. Maximilian Kolbe


March 2012

Consolidated from the written history of Our Lady of the Lake 1920-1994
by Rosalie F. Malunowicz (1994)
and Parish History of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish

Catholics from Pocono Pines and Pocono Lake had to travel to St. James Church in Tobyhanna to attend Mass until 1909, when St. Mary of The Mount was built in Mount Pocono. The resident population was small. However, by 1913 there were enough summer visitors to warrant a priest to say Mass at the Pines Assembly Pavilion in Pocono Pines.

Our “church in progress” realized by the end of World War I that a church was not only desirable but also feasible. The Rev. P.J. Boland, pastor of St. Mary’s in Mount Pocono, together with some of the first parishioners undertook its construction. According to the records found in the cornerstone, the church was dedicated on August 8, 1920 by the Rev. Michael J. Hoban D.D., bishop of Scranton, and the Rev. P.J. Boland, with many parishioners in attendance.


Original Our Lady of the Lakes Church, built in 1920. Destroyed by fire 1978

Unfortunately, there are limited records available. Much of the information of the early history that follows was based on the memories of Msgr. Francis Kane and the Rev. Aloysius T. Boylan and the few still living original members of the parish.

It was generally agreed that the summer visitors supported the establishment of the church in Pocono Pines. Mary and Anna Ryan, sisters from Philadelphia, had a summer home in Mount Pocono and donated a very generous gift, which made possible the erection of a church at that time.

Being a member of the mission church added many extra chores, i.e., the maintenance of the church. It was up to the women to keep the church clean. For many years, they carried the water from home. They also laundered the linens from the altar and took care of the vestments. The men took care of the various repairs. The church was closed during the winter for the first 26 years. Catechism classes were held in the homes of the parishioners, usually at the Lewis home.

In 1926, the Rev. C.J. McHugh assumed the pastorate of St. Mary’s of the Mount and all of its mission churches. Our Lady remained under his pastorate until 1945, when, with the permission of Bishop William J. Hafey, the mission was annexed by Saint Ann’s of Tobyhanna, with the Rev. Aloysius T. Boylan as pastor.

During the 1930s, the country suffered from economic depression. Many people were out of work, new job opportunities were scarce. Bread lines were crowded with people, hungry for food. Those were bad times for all. church improvements were a low priority. Helping families in need was uppermost.

The early 1940s were not any better due to the war in Europe and our involvement. Despite the war, by 1946 our parish began to glean some economic improvement. The time was more favorable to initiate new projects, in particular, the purchase of a heating plant to keep the church warm during winter. Our Lady of the Lake became a year-around church despite the low Sunday attendance in winter. This increased the amount of work to maintain the church, and the women and men increased their devotion to those chores.

In 1950, the Rev. George J. Jordan was appointed pastor of St. Ann’s and its missions. By 1958 the parish population increased, enabling the formation of the Altar and Rosary Society. Their activities increased the saying of the rosary, to reading from the lives of the Saints, to charitable activities. The society received the Bishop Hannon Award for meeting established requirements of the Scranton Diocese in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The society involved itself in helping with many activities, from cooking for the firemen’s carnival to covered dish socials.

In 1964, Msgr. Joseph G. Quinn became the new pastor. During his pastorate the church was completely refurbished, and with the installation of running water, the bucket brigade became obsolete. The basement was converted to a social room and kitchen. Church meetings now had a place to plan activities such as CCD, dinners and the Christmas party.

After the transfer of Msgr. Quinn to St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Dunmore, the Rev. Vincent P. Harrity was appointed pastor in December 1970. He continued to implement changes expressed in the Vatican II Council, and his subsequent sudden death was a shock to all his parishioners.

The next pastor appointed was Msgr. Arthur J. Kaschenbach, who served until 1977. During Msgr. Kaschenbach’s assignment, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priesthood.

To meet the growing needs of Our Lady of the Lake and St. Ann’s, Msgr. Kaschenbach engaged the services of Sister Mary Howard Krotzer as the coordinator of religious education. In 1977, the Rev. Eugene L. Gunning succeeded Msgr. Kaschenbach as pastor.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck our church on March 25, 1978. During our Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, an electrical fire burned Our Lady of the Lake church to a shell, in spite of the prompt and efficient action of the Tobyhanna Township Fire Company. The shell remained standing but the wooden building was structurally unsound. The cornerstone, set in 1920, was the only usable remains.

Religious services continued and weekend masses were scheduled at the Pocono Lake Hotel during the spring and summer of 1978. In the fall, they were held at the old firehouse per arrangements with the Tobyhanna Township supervisors.


New Our Lady of the Lakes – now St. Maximilian Kolbe – opened in 1980

Under the guidance of the Rev. Gunning, a new church of contemporary design was planned to accommodate anticipated parish growth. On January 13, 1980, the new Our Lady of the Lake Church in Pocono Pines was completed, solemnly blessed and dedicated by His Excellency J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., Bishop of Scranton.

In 1983, the Rev. Thomas J. Maloney, M. Rel. Ed., was appointed pastor of St. Ann’s Parish and Our Lady of the Lake as a mission. Finally in September 1985, Bishop Timlin designated Our Lady of the Lake a separate parish, and appointed Father Maloney as the first pastor of our parish. At long last we had our own parish and pastor.

As pastor of our church, Father Maloney brought a special commitment and dedication to meet the challenges of the new parish. “Father Tom” was instrumental in establishing many ministries, programs and activities that built an extremely active parish.

In 1990, Lynette Smith, who had been ministering in the parish as coordinator of religious education, was also appointed pastoral assistant.

The 1990s saw considerable growth of the parish as new families were establishing residence in the surrounding communities. Seasonal expansion was also occurring, and as this continued the pastor and parishioners were concerned about congestion at Masses.

An Expansion Campaign was formed, with a goal established to complete expansion of our facilities by December 1993. Expansion was designed to double the worship space, and add classrooms and offices. From June 1993, Masses were held for the next nine months at the Tobyhanna Elementary Center.

Although the expansion goal was not realized on time due to delays of materials, the parish family returned to celebrate Palm Sunday weekend in the renovated church. Subsequently, an Open House was held May 15,1994 for parishioners, friends and neighbors to tour the new facilities.

In January 2008, the Diocesan Bishop, Joseph F. Martino, instituted a Diocesan program for profound parish renewal. Parish Core Committees and Cluster Core Committees were established to make suggestions to the Diocesan Planning Commission and Bishop Martino.

After hearing the unanimous recommendation of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese, on January 19, 2009, Bishop Martino decreed the suppression of the parish of Christ the King in Blakeslee, by means of an extinctive union with the territorial parish of Our Lady of the Lake. This was necessary due to diminishing numbers of parishioners, lower Mass attendance and fewer priests available, and was scheduled for September 6, 2009.

As a means to promote unity and equality to those parishioners newly incorporated into a parish community and to promote the recognition by all the faithful of the new community, the surviving parish was to receive a new name.

After suggestions from the pastor, parishioners and Presbyteral Council, Bishop Martino decreed the parish to be known as Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish, effective September 6, 2009.

St. Maximilian Kolbe
5112 Pocono Crest Rd.
Pocono Pines, PA 18350

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