In June of 1948 Fr. Frederick Delaney was assigned by Archbishop Edward Mooney to establish a parish in the area of the White Lake Chapel, which had been built by Irish settlers in 1844. The new parish was to serve the needs of those Catholics living in White Lake, Waterford and Drayton Plains. The new parish was to be known as St. Patrick’s Church. Because of the extent of area to be covered, Fr. Delaney received permission to establish two parishes and the second parish, Our Lady of the Lakes, celebrated its first Sunday Mass at the CAI building on September 26, 1948. The choir sang, under the direction of Mrs. Eva Marie Brown.
The original rectory was an old cottage on Cooley Lake Road and, with the coming of winter, was deemed to be inadequate. Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Miner offered their home on Lansdowne as a temporary rectory. Sunday Masses continued in the CAI building and confessions were heard in the Seeterlin Real Estate building on Dixie Highway near the Sportsman Bar, an appropriate location!
In 1949, a rectory was purchased on the corner of Dixie and Mill St. from Mr. & Mrs. Pellitier. A small chapel was constructed in the rear of the building and daily Mass was celebrated there. After months of intensive search and with the assistance of Joe Seeterlin, permission was given from the Archdiocese to purchase 15 1/2 acres of property with a frontage of 500 feet on Dixie Hwy. (In 1954 an additional 100 feet were purchased.)
In 1950, plans for a new church and social hall were drawn and the building was dedicated on May 13, 1951 by Archbishop Mooney. A bronze commemorative plaque has been installed on the northwest wall of the church. In 1953 the rectory was built with the understanding that it would become part of the proposed high school, serving as a home economics laboratory.
In 1954 the first building fund drive was held to raise money to construct a school complex. On October 28, 1956, ground was broken for a new grade school and the first classes, grades 5-8, started school in September of 1958. It was Fr. Delaney’s hope to add an additional grade each year until the high school was complete and then add lower grades. In 1958 the convent, now the Fr. Delaney Parish Center, was constructed and work begun on the high school. The first floor was completed (with just a skeleton of a second floor) and the building was put into use. In 1960 another fund drive was begun to finish the school and the first graduating class celebrated commencement in June of 1962.
The parish continued to grow from a small resident community with a large cottage, or summer, population to a community of permanent residences. What began as a parish of 150 families has grown to a parish of over 3100 families and growing fast. Growth to the north, and a desire for Catholic education, has encouraged new families to join the Laker family. After Fr. Delaney’s retirement, he was succeeded by Fr. John Maierle, then by co-pastors Frs. Alexander Kuras and James Cronk. Fr. Cronk became sole pastor and served until 1990 when he was succeeded by Fr. Leo Broderick. Fr. Lawrence Delonnay arrived in November 1994 and retired from active priesthood in June 2017. Fr. Scott Thibodeau is the current pastor leading Lakes since July with his formal installment September 24, 2017.
In 1985 ground was broken for a new church. In 1987 the new church was dedicated by Archbishop Szoka and stands on Dixie Highway as a symbol that the Lord does live in the hearts of the people of this community. Our Lady of the Lakes completed a building program which added four classrooms, a commons area and a new gymnasium to our school. In the fall of 2006 our new social hall was dedicated. Major repairs and renovations have been taking place recently in order to preserve and improve our facilities as we look to the next sixty-five years of service.