Good evening. I am Monsignor Moroney, the Rector of Saint John’s Seminary and on behalf of Cardinal O’Malley and the Saint John’s Seminary Board of Trustees I welcome our distinguished guests and each and every one of you to the opening of the Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall and Library at Saint John’s Seminary.
For the past year, Frank Fulginetti and his remarkable crews have been hard at work resurrecting this holy house for the good of the Seminary and the Oak Square Community. I am deeply indebted to him, to Rich Flaherty and Armand Delandro to our architect, John Williams, and to Andrew Kara for his extraordinarily generous legal counsel.
Allow me also to thank right at the start Sandy Barry, who has planned this event, and Sister Jeanne Gribaudo, who has tirelessly shepherded this project to its completion.
Wow! The Catholic Church is back on Oak Square and what a glorious day it is! Thank you all for being here!
SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS
Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall and Library
September 16, 2013
Little Cambridge, or “the South Precinct” was mainly woods, broken by fields cleared for a few small family farms. Twenty five years after the American Revolution no more than four hundred people lived here, and none of them were Catholic.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, Brighton was beginning to grow and would soon be voluntarily incorporated into the City of Boston. With thriving farms and nurseries, it would soon boast the greatest cattle market and slaughterhouse in central New England. By the end of the nineteenth century, more than six thousand people lived here, many of whom were Catholic.
The first Masses in Brighton, it seems, were celebrated “in a loft over the stable of Chandler, the iceman, on Chestnut Hill Ave.” where the Priest’s “sermons were punctuated by the neighing of horses, barking of dogs, or grunts of pigs in the stable below.”
It wasn't until 1856 that the stable Church was abandoned for the new Saint Columbkille’s, which promptly burned down a few years later, was rebuilt, and finally replaced with the present Saint Columbkille’s Church fourteen years later.
By the early twentieth century, however, Brighton had become one of the more prosperous and commercial neighborhoods of Boston, and with the new immigration, the Catholic Population was growing by leaps and bounds.
And so the Church arrived in Oak Square, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Presentation, as exactly one hundred years ago Fathers Lenehan and Murphy began construction of this magnificent temple to the glory of God. The first time those doors opened was in 1921, when Cardinal O’Connell dedicated this space, and today, ninety two years later, after a lot of twists and turns, the Catholic Church returns to Oak Square!
And who would have guessed, a hundred years ago, as Cardinal O’Connell was completing the building of Saint John’s Seminary and Our Lady of the Presentation in the same year, that God would will that these two great ecclesial institutions would be joined as one?
For Our Lady of the Presentation and Saint John’s are now one, as a part of the largest and oldest Seminary in New England. Having formed more than three thousand Priests since the days those front doors first opened, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Presentation, we will continue this good work for the Church for decades to come.
From this pulpit, the Catholic Faith will once again be proclaimed, to a new generation of Priests and Seminarians and faithful sons and daughters of the one, holy catholic and apostolic faith. In this place we will study that same faith which nourished those who have gone before us, and seek to live as God intends, dying to ourselves and being born only to his love and his truth.
And all this is made possible by the faith and devotion of the loyal sons and daughters of Our Lady of the Presentation, who this day become a valued part of our seminary community. Whatever good we are able to accomplish in this holy house is due in no small part to the faith which was passed on to you by your mothers and fathers and the good priests who served you throughout the years. Whatever good we are able to accomplish in this holy house is due to your persistent faith in what it means to be Catholic, what it means to follow Christ and his Church.
While I wish I could thank each of you by name, for this seminary community owes each of you a debt of gratitude and of love, I will mention but two of you: Ann Larosse and Secretary Galvin. You have both been a constant support to me in this endeavor and I am deeply grateful.
I also wish to thank Bishop Kennedy, my predecessor as Rector of Saint John’s, whose original vision inspired the actions which we celebrate today. And most of all, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, our Archbishop and greatest patron in this endeavor. While his Eminence is out of the country today, he asked me to convery to you his deep appreciation for your support and his delight in this great grace for the Church in Oak Square and in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank a man without whose support today would never have been possible. We will soon miss the wise counsel and paternal support of Mayor Menino, who loves this city almost as much as he loves his wife Angela. I remember when I brought this project to the Mayor a year and a half ago, and all he said was, “Monsignor, anything I can do to help.” And he has been a man of his word. We will miss you, Mr. Mayor.
For I know that the motto of the City of Boston is as much a part of you as it is the “pressies,” the seminarians and the friends of Saint John’s before whom I stand. "SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS," As he was with our Fathers, so God will be with us.
From the room over the stable on Chestnut Ave, to the opening of great temples on Lake Street and Oak Square a hundred years ago, to this great day when the Seminary arrives on Oak Square, as God was with them, so will he be with us today and for all the ages until he comes in glory and leads us home. Amen.