Founded in 1931 in a cabin in Medford Lakes, New Jersey to serve the 40 Catholic families living in the area, St. Mary of the Lakes was formally established as a parish in 1943. The present church, located at 40 Jackson Road in Medford, was built in 1966. The original cabin still stands, located at 108 Stokes Road, owned by the Protestant Community Church, serving as its Memorial Hall. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic School was built in 1954 with an enrollment of 180 students and staffed by four Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1943, Father Paul Grieco (1943-1948), remembered by those who knew him as a good administrator, spiritual helper, and friend, was chosen as St. Mary of the Lakes’ first pastor, during which time he built a rectory and ensured that area children had access to local Catholic schools.
In 1949, Father Raymond Hurley (1948-1959) replaced Father Grieco and four years later, the decision was made to build a school for the children of the parish. In 1954, St. Joseph’s School was dedicated by Monsignor Michael McCorriston. Enrollment was only 180 students and were taught by four Sisters of St. Joseph from Newark and one lay teacher.
In 1959, Father William Campbell (1959-1980) was appointed pastor, by which time school enrollment had jumped to 300 and parish registration had grownn substantially. By 1965, recognizing that the log cabin on Mohawk Trail could no longer accommodate the needs of such a large community, pastor and parishioners agreed that a new church should be built. The cornerstone was laid in November of 1966 and the beautiful new building, designed by noted Philadelphia architect John Sabatino, was dedicated and opened for worship.
In 1969, the Sisters of St. Francis came to staff the school with its growing population, and by 1980, the school was expanded, changing its name from St. Joseph’s to St. Mary of the Lakes. A religious education program was put in place in the early 1970s. It has since grown to add a Pre-School and Kindergarten wing, Religious Education Center, regulation-sized gym, media center and computer labs. Today, the parish boasts a community of 4200 families, 965 children in its Parish Religious Education Program, and 350 students enrolled in the school.
Within a year, registration topped 4000 families and with the continued growth of the area population, Bishop John C. Reiss decided to divide St. Mary of the Lakes to form another parish, Holy Eucharist, in Tabernacle. That same year, Father Joseph LaForge (1982-1992) was named pastor, and by 1985, it was determined to expand the school buildings and add a kindergarten program.
Father Joseph Tedesco (1992-2002) was appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes in 1992. By then, the parish had grown to over 4000 families, with over 1,000 children in religious education and 450 children in the parish school.
In 1996, it was decided to expand the school's physical space, and PARISH 2000, a capital fund-raising campaign was initiated, which allowed for the addition of a Parish Education Center, a regulation-sized gym, meeting rooms and media center. The faculty and art rooms were renovated, along with additional parking spaces and improved grounds.
In January 2003, Monsignor James H. Dubell (2003 - 2015) was appointed pastor and remaining until June 30, 2015, when he retired after 50 years a priest.
On November 1, 2015, Reverend Daniel F. Swift officially became the eighth pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Church and School, leading a parish community that now includes 4200 families with 1100 children in our Parish Religious Education Program and over 350 students enrolled in St. Mary of the Lakes School.