In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Catholic residents of Verona had to travel to Orange and Belleville and later to Caldwell and Montclair to attend Mass and other services. As the need for a local church became increasingly apparent, the Catholics in Verona submitted a petition to the Bishop in Newark in 1914. The request was denied.
However, nine years later, with the cooperation of Reverend Thomas J. McEnery, pastor of St. Aloysius, the possibility of a church in Verona was again explored.
On July 14, 1923, the Most Rev. John J O'Connor, Bishop of Newark, gave the initial sanction and official approval was granted by the Vicar General of the Diocese, Rt. Rev. Msgr. John A. Sheppard, for the establishment of a church with a resident pastor for Verona's 150 Catholic families.
On September 16, 1923, the first Mass was offered in Verona at a temporary location in the high school auditorium. Four months later, on January 20, 1924, Rev. James J. Kelly, Our Lady of the Lake's first pastor, broke ground on Lakeside Avenue proclaiming, "This Church will become a power for good in the community."
A successful building campaign, with a goal of $50,000, led to the laying of the first cornerstone in April 1924. On June 15th of that year, the first Mass was celebrated in the new church of Our Lady of the Lake.
Father Kelly served as a pastor for 19 years. When he was transferred in 1942, he was succeeded by the Rev. M.J. Boylan. The parish grew with the town so that by 1963 over 2,000 families were attending services. The resultant overcrowding led Rev. Francis C. Carey, who became pastor in 1957, to initiate a new building campaign for a new and larger church. A new contemporary church was designed on the current site, using the traditional cross shape with a seating capacity of 1,300.
The first Mass in the new church was Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in 1964. His Excellency, the Most Rev. Thomas A. Boland, Archbishop of Newark, officiated at the solemn dedication and laying of the cornerstone on January 9, 1965.
Due to Fr. Carey's poor health, Rev. John McDermott was named Administrator in May 1974. He was succeeded by Rev. James Reilly who served as pastor in 1976.
In June 1977, Rev. Timothy F. Hourihan was appointed pastor, replacing Fr. Reilly who retired due to illness. Fr. Hourihan served the parish until 1994 to be succeeded by Our Lady of the Lake's current pastor Rev. Michael A. Hanly.
As the parish grew to over 2,800 families, another successful building campaign was launched in 2002 to renovate and refurbish the existing church. After temporarily locating the church in the school auditorium, the newly renovated church opened its doors with a joyful celebration unveiling a beautiful worship space for the OLL parish family. The rededication took place on June 28, 2003 by the Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark.
November 19, 1923
Rev. James J. Kelly named first Pastor.
January 20, 1924
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Our Lady of the Lake Church.
April 13, 1924
Laying of Cornerstone for Church.
April 28, 1924
First child baptized (Francis Eileen Conroy).
May 29, 1924
First Mass Celebrated in Original Church.
June 15, 1924
Very first Holy Communion celebrated.
June 27, 1924
First Marriage on church property (not solemnized).
June 28, 1924
First Marriage solemnized on church property.
September 10, 1924
January 24, 1949
25th Anniversary of Church.
December 24, 1958
Fr. Boyland died.
December 24, 1964
First Mass in New Church (Midnight Mass).
January 09, 1965
Archbishop Thomas A. Boland formally dedicated new Church.
January 28, 1974
Rev. Edward O'Toole died.
March 29, 1975
Fr. Francis Carey died
August 8, 1979
Rev. James Kelly (First Pastor) died.