History of St. Mary's Church
In 1849 a tannery was built in Ledgedale. Many Irish Catholic immigrants found jobs here and they settled in the area with their families.
The area where the tannery was located had a Post Office, a small country store, a one room schoolhouse, and a few houses. Since most of the settlers were of the Catholic Faith the one thing they wanted most was a Church where they could attend Mass and worship.
In 1853 Very Reverend Moses Whitty, pastor of St. Philomena's Church in Hawley, started a mission for the village of Ledgedale. Since Ledgedale was a mission charge of Hawley, a priest from Hawley would come occasionally and say a mass in one of the local homes. As recorded in one history of the diocese, in 1856, Bishop John Neumann, subsequently canonized as Saint John Neumann, came from Philadelphia on horseback and confirmed a class in the Mangan home in Ledgedale.
St. Mary's church was built in 1877. The inscription on the cornerstone tells us that the church was dedicated on the Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Mother on August 15, 1877.
The original church, of New England Architectural design, stands today, 25 years later, just as strong, firm and stately as it did in 1877. The story of its construction, as handed down from generation to generation, was that all of the families and working members of the families were asked to contribute money or labor. The land for the church and cemetery was donated by
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Denver, Sr. and the Patrick Mee families. Patrick Mee was a Civil War veteran of the Grand Army of the Republic. The stones used for the foundation of the church were hauled by oxen from a blue stone quarry twenty miles distant in Pike county. The lumber was all native chestnut and hemlock milled at the local mills. Local masons did the hauling of the stone and foundation work. Numerous other tasks were done by volunteer parishioners. However, skilled New England craftsmen, who specialized in church building, were hired to do carpentry construction and the interior finish of the church. All this work was carried out under the guidance of Father John O'Malley from Hawley. Thus St. Mary's became a mission church of St. Philomena Church, Hawley (now known as Queen of Peace Church) and remained so until 1940 when St. Thomas More, Lake Ariel was built.
Under the Most Reverend William J. Hafey, St. Thomas More parish was founded in 1940 and Father Joseph Corcoran became the first resident pastor of St. Thomas More and St. Mary's Churches in 1941. It was in 1940 that electric was finally installed in the church and the kerosene lamps removed. In July of 1942, on the day the church of St. Thomas More was dedicated, Bishop Hafey administered the sacrament of confirmation at St. Mary's Church.
In the late 1950's a new roof was put on and the interior and exterior of the church was repainted. The original Stations of the Cross, imported from Germany, as well as all the statues were repainted and refinished. In July 1963, Father McAndrew had a special mass to dedicate the new organ donated in memory of
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Sledzinski, Sr. by their family.
Beginning in 1972 the sanctuary was changed in accordance with the Vatican II regulations. The existing altars were replaced with an altar for the tabernacle and a new wooden table having a rectangular base containing the letters Alpha and Omega was added. New carpeting was installed in the sanctuary and the wooden floors were painted. At this time, parishioners who volunteered their labor repainted the entire interior of the church. A large crucifix, donated by the Altar and Rosary Society, was hung above the tabernacle.
Many changes were made in the church in preparation for the Centennial celebration. The organ was brought from the rear of the church to the front where the organist and choir could better lead the community in song. The front doors were replaced with solid sturdy ones donated by Vincent and Florence Kelly. In preparation for the Centennial , all parishioners were asked to help plan for the celebration and financial pledges were sought to help defray expenses. The roof was re-shingled, and during the time of re-shingling, a wind and rainstorm caused severe damage to the interior ceiling plaster. As a result, the entire interior was re-plastered and repainted. The statue of the Risen Christ was centered on a sunburst mural in the sanctuary. New carpeting was installed in the entire church and the stained glass windows were re-leaded. The insulation was replaced and a new heating plant installed. Pews of oak replaced the original chestnut benches and a center aisle was added. The confessional was removed and the former priests' sacristy became the Reconciliation Room. The Centennial Celebration was held on September 23, 1978.
In 1988 an addition was made to the front of the existing church consisting of a large vestibule/gathering area, lavatory, multi-purpose room and vesting area. A ramp was built on the side of the church to make it handicapped accessible. Also, at this time a well was drilled and the parking lot expanded and improved. A "holding vault" was also built in the cemetery.
In early 1997, we were able to purchase 5.9 acres of land contiguous with the Church property from Wallenpaupack Lake Estates. This property is on he corner of Goose Pond Road and Saint Mary's Road. The acquisition of this parcel was made possible by the generosity of a benefactor/parishioner.
In 2001 central air conditioning was installed in preparation for the 125th anniversary celebration, the paneling on the lower portion of the walls was replaced with oak wainscoting and both the interior and exteriors of the church were repainted. New carpeting has been installed throughout.