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The root of St. Edward’s parish reaches back to Jeddo, to Fr. Lawrence Kilroy and to 1851. In that year Fr. Kilroy started St. Lawrence Church on our present cemetery site on Jeddo Road. The two acres of property were originally purchased from the Indians by John and Mary Ann Carroll and given to the Archdiocese of Detroit for one dollar. The property was not duly registered with the Registrar of Deeds, St. Clair County, until April 12, 1860.
The church of St. Lawrence was of frame construction, 25’ x 60’, heated by a “Long John” stove which held full-sized logs. Some of our present-day parishioners built the log fires there as late as 1946. St. Lawrence Church was the second Catholic church to be built in St. Clair County, the first being St. Agatha’s, two miles south of Marine City. St. Lawrence Church later became a mission of St. Patrick’s in Croswell but was cut off when the Diocese of Saginaw was formed. The church was torn down in 1949.
St. Lawrence cemetery has markers dating over 100 years. Ox-drawn carts carried deceased loved ones from as far as Port Sanilac for burial. Some name from the markers are still known to us - Carroll, Gibbons, Burnham, Sharpe, Ryan, Burns, Brown, Holland, McKenzie, McCarthy, Fergus, and Skiffington. Presently, the cemetery is being restored.
In 1945, Mr. And Mrs. H. A. Carroll, summer parishioners from Detroit gave property, 150’ x 150’, “to start a church”. The Carrolls were moving to Lakeport as permanent residents. Fr. Edward J. McCormick, Pastor of St. Stephen’s, Port Huron, accepted the property for the Archdiocese and planned with Edward Cardinal Mooney, Archbishop of Detroit, for the transfer of the Church from Jeddo to Lakeport “but not beyond because it must still serve the Catholics from Jeddo”, His Eminence said.
Fr. McCormick entered the following report in the first St. Edward’s Journal, page 1:
“After mentioning the desire of His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Mooney, several times in St. Stephen’s, following tentative plans of my own during previous years, Mr. H. A. Carroll came in after Mass and said he would donate a site. I reviewed the location and reported to the Cardinal. We could procure no building. I told him I needed another priest to make it a success. He promised one, stationed at St. Stephen’s. Bishop Woznicki met me at retreat and told me of the Cardinal’s decision and suggested that I have a field Mass to begin.
“Father Edward J. Hurley was appointed July 5th and after duly announcing it on the radio, the first Mass was celebrated July 7th, 1946, on the property site donated by Mr. H. A. Carroll with special music and sermon by Fr. Hurley and one by myself. We attracted the attention of passers-by on M25 (highway) and the collection announced was $436.00. It happened to be the thirty-ninth anniversary of my Ordination, of which fact I made marked reference. Thus was St. Edward’s on the Lake established, not forgetting that I announced myself by sign and word of mouth as Pastor because its success or failure rested on my shoulders.”
On another page of the Journal, Fr. McCormick continues: “St. Edward’s on the Lake, was named by permission of Chancellor Edward J. Hickey in honor of His Eminence Edward Cardinal Mooney; Chancellor Edward J. Hickey, Fr. Edward J. McCormick, first appointed acting pastor Fr. Edward J. Hurley, first Acolyte Edward Powers. No more auspicious guarantee need be found to assure St. Edward’s on the Lake a future surpassing all expectations.”
Fr. Edward J. Hurley supervised the construction of a hall which was completed in 1947 and served as a church as well. He worked hard to organize parish societies and fund-raising parish socials. Fr. Hurley administered the Sacraments and conducted a full schedule of parish services and activities. He organized the Mission of St. Edward’s and established it securely.
In June, 1950, Fr. John R. Hogan, assistant at St. Stephen’s and Director of the Catholic Family Center of St. Clair County was appointed by His Eminence Edward Cardinal Mooney to St. Edward’s as first resident priest. Fr. Hogan took up residence in a rented rectory at 3561 Memoir Lakeport. The hall was converted into a full-time church and 10 ½ acres of property adjoining it were purchased from the C. I. O. Mr. “Gus” Schoelle and Mr. Barney Hopkins, President and Secretary-Treasurer, respectively, were most friendly and helpful in obtaining permission for the sale from the C. I. O. State Convention.
In May, 1953, the rectory was moved to a cottage on Sundell Drive, Lakeport, pending completion of a permanent rectory which was completed in October 1953. A fund-raising drive for a new church was approved by the Church Committee (Mr. M. T. Lardner, Mr. F. Alexander, Mr. F. G. Weil, Mr. S. A. Barzone, Mr. A. Gemind and Mr. F. McCabe) in 1954 and resulted in pledges of $108,000.00.
The new St. Edward’s church was begun in the fall of 1955. Fr. E. J. McCormick turned the first sod. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thos. A. Connell, Dean, blessed the Corner Stone. The first Mass was celebrated on Holy Thursday, March 29th, 1956 by Fr. Hogan. Bishop Alexander M. Zaleski, D.D., Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Detroit, blessed the new church Sunday, May 20th, 1956.
His Eminence Edward Cardinal Mooney, appointed Fr. Hogan Administrator of St. Edward’s and raised the mission to the dignity of a full parish on August 20th, 1955. We pray God’s continued blessings.