St. Mary's Church
17 Pompton Avenue
Though there is some historical evidence to suggest that Catholic religious services had been held in Pompton Lakes as early as 1794, it wasn't until the 1880s that Mass was conducted once or twice a month first at the old schoolhouse and then at the home of Major Colfax on the Paterson Hamburg Turnpike. This practice continued till February 1906 when St. Mary's Parish was formally established by Bishop John O'Connor of Newark with Father Francis Koch, O.F.M as Pastor and Mathias Hennion and Timothy Lyons as lay trustees.
For the next several months Mass was said over the Mr. Hennion's blacksmith shop on Ringwood Avenue. In May, however, Fr. Francis purchased the Pompton Lakes Club House and remodeled it to form the first parish church. The first Mass was celebrated here on May 20, 1906.
That same year saw the establishment of a Sunday school under the direction of two Peekskill Franciscan Sisters who commuted to St. Mary's each week from Butler where they were teaching at St. Anthony's School. The children were prepared for the reception of their First Holy Communion which took place on August 26th. The Sisters of this community continued to instruct the children of the parish for some forty-five years, till 1951, when St. Mary's parochial grammar school opened.
In 1908 some major renovations and alterations took place. A steeple was erected and a church bell was installed. The bell was donated by Mrs. Hershfield and Mrs. McDavitt, in memory of their brother, Alfred Lauterbach, who had been killed in an accident. That same bell continues to ring out today.
On April 14,1935 permission was granted and ground was broken for a new Church to be built (the old church sat only 172). The church was completed on October 1, 1935 and officially dedicated on December 6, 1936 by Bishop Thomas McLoughlin, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark and soon to be First Bishop of Paterson. In January 1945, St. Mary's became a residential parish. This necessitated the construction of a rectory which was completed the following year. Heretofore the priests assigned to St. Mary's lived at St. Anthony's Friary in Butler.
The 1950s were years of tremendous growth for the parish. The early 50s saw the establishment of St. Mary's School, the erection of a Convent and the arrival of nine Alleghany Franciscan Sisters to staff the school. In 1956 two wings were added to the church, one on either side of the sanctuary. At the same time the sacristy and the sanctuary area were entirely renovated and refurbished. In 1959 a new friary was built immediately adjacent to the Church.
In 1962 St. Mary's parish was divided and three new parishes were formed: Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pompton Plains, Annunciation and Our Lady of Consolation, both of Wayne.
In 1987 the present friary at 52 Lenox Avenue was established and the old friary was renamed the Parish Center.
St. Mary's continues to be one of the most dynamic Catholic and Franciscan parishes in the Northern Passaic region. Currently there are over 3000 families registered. Fr. Michael J. Carnevale, O.F.M. is the Pastor.