Seminary Squeezola: BC Brighton Campus plans

In today’s episode of the “Seminary Squeezola” (about how both the Boston Archdiocesean leadership and Boston College have been inhibiting the ability of St. Johns Seminary from being more prosperous), we discuss the expansion plans BC has for their new “Brighton Campus” and we share via pictures what the squeezola actually looks like.

For new readers, in our first exciting episode, St Johns Seminary “Squeezola, we reported on how Boston College is encroaching on the limited space left for St. John’s Seminary. In our second episode, The 2007 Sale of Property to BC, we gave some of the history of the 2004 and 2007 sales, and how the archdiocese–and specifically Cardinal O’Malley, Chancellor McDonough, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson who serve on the seminary board–disregarded the recommendations of the Vatican’s apostolic visitation committee that no more property from SJS be sold. In our third episode, Chancellor Conflict of Interest and Money Grab we reported on the money grab for the seminary assets and conflicts of interest by Archdiocesan Chancellor Jim McDonough and other archdiocesan leaders.

For posterity sake, we invite you to briefly take a look at some of the history of the St. Johns Seminary campus.  According to the SJS website, in March of 1880, Archbishop Williams acquired the 50 acre Stanwood estate, near the present day Lake Street in Brighton, for around $18,500.  As you know, all of that land was sold to Boston College in 2004 and 2007. If you want to learn more about the development of the buildings on the property and architecture, the Brighton Allston Historical Society has an interesting overview. 

Here is what the St. Johns Seminary map used to look like before the Archdicoese sold off all of their land:

Walk about the former seminary grounds today and it all looks basically like it did a few years ago before it was sold, except for the addition of some emergency phones, signage, and the young coeds now walking around. But this belies the plans ahead. 

First off, here is what the BC “Brighton Campus”  map looks like today.

  

The black building in the top part of the picture is St. Johns Hall.  That is all that remains of the former St. Johns Seminary property for the seminary, and even that building sits on land now owned by Boston College.  The building itself is legally considered a “condominium.”  St. Johns Hall is attached to the former Bishop Peterson Hall (blue-colored building), and only hallway doors separate the building occupied by BC (former Peterson Hall) and the St. Johns Hall building.

The initial plans for the Brighton Campus were announced in December 2007 by BC, as part of their  $800M 10-Year Master Plan (later $1B), which also included plans for the main campus.  The Brighton Campus plan got pared back a fair amount after review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority by the time it was approved in early 2009.

Here are highlights  from their original 2007 plan for the Brighton Campus:

  • Addition of 600 beds on the Brighton Campus
  • Develop the Brighton Athletics Center, which will include a 1,500-seat baseball and 500-seat softball field, as well as a multi-purpose field for intramural sports, and a 200,000 square field house for track and tennis on the Brighton Campus.
  • Build a fine arts district on the Brighton Campus that will include the relocated McMullen Museum of Art, an auditorium and academic space.
  • Build Jesuit housing on Foster Street in Brighton for Jesuit faculty and graduate students from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, which re-affiliates with Boston College in 2008.
  • Build a 500-space parking facility to serve the Brighton Campus.
  • Develop the former Cardinal’s Residence on the Brighton Campus into a Conference Center for Boston College.
  • Develop St. William’s Hall on the Brighton Campus into the new School of Theology and Ministry.
  • Utilize the remaining properties acquired from the Archdiocese of Boston as administrative offices.

 In January of 2009, the plan was approved, with a number of modifications.  Here are the highlights of the changes:

  • Number of dorm rooms to be added was scaled back dramatically from the original 600 beds, down to 150 beds, and the 150 bed proposal was not approved and was to be taken under further advisement.
  • Athletics facilities: Seating capacity of the baseball facility reduced from 2,000 to 1,000 seats, with the possibility of a future increase if management and impact standards are met.  Seating capacity of the softball facility reduced the from 500 to 300 seats.  The planned 200,000 square foot field house was reduced to a 60,000 square foot support facility. 
  • Fine arts center, museum and auditorium relocated from the corner of Lake Street and Commonwealth Avenue to a more central location along Commonwealth Avenue (near the former Cardinal’s Residence).
  • BC agreed to establish for 25 years a “no-build” zone 50 feet wide extending from the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Lake Street to the driveway entrance to St. John’s Seminary.

Here’s a 2006 rendition of what the proposed athletic fields would look like (though in the 2009 revisions, the orientation was changed)

 

Brighton Fields | A view to the southwest from above property adjoining Brighton Campus. A set of playing fields stretches from the near left to the near right, ending at Lake Street. The new building in the middle distance is a combination racquet center and parking garage. The campus of St. John’s Seminary is in the middle distance at center.

Work has now begun. Walk past the former Bishop Peterson Hall and you will see scaffolding outside. The building used to have classrooms, administrative offices and dorm rooms for the seminarians.

What is BC planning to use the former Peterson Hall for?   According to this September 10, 2010 Boston Globe article, “Once the Lake Street renovations are complete, the college’s human resource employees from More Hall will move there.”

There are more than a few things that we do not understand.  The biggest one is why BC is saying they need to use the St Johns Seminary Chapel are part of the negotition over the dorm rooms SJS would like to acquire back.  There is a perfectly fine spacious chapel BC owns in the former Peterson Hall building and they are apparently planning to gut (or are already gutting) so they can use the space for some other purpose.  How demanding could the office requirements for HR employees who are right now comfortably working in another building possibly be?  BC also got a chapel in the former St. Clements Hall building and another smaller one in the former St. Williams Hall building.  They bought 3 buildings with chapels, and need to further encroach on our seminary to use their chapel?  Does anyone else think this is preposterous? 

Beyond the matter of the chapel, although it is “water over the dam” at this point, just out of curiosity, was the property sold to BC in 2004 and 2007 ever even put up for sale by the archdiocese via an open request for proposal (RFP) and open bidding process?  Could anyone who wanted to submit a proposal for consideration, or was BC the only bidder allowed?

Why is BC’s further encroachment on the seminary tolerated?  Don’t the growing numbers of seminarians and expansion of the SJS programs speak volumes?  Why isn’t Cardinal O’Malley trying to “buy back” the former Peterson Hall so the seminary’s growth has someplace to go?  Whose advice is he listening to regarding the future of the seminary?

So many questions.  So few answers.  Stay tuned for more in our next exciting episode of Seminary Squeezola.

ps. Odds now favor the announcement of Kathleen Driscoll as the new secretary for institutional advancement next Tuesday, Election Day, so it will get the least amount of press coverage possible.

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17 Responses to Seminary Squeezola: BC Brighton Campus plans

  1. A Sad Boston Priest says:

    I KNOW SOME WILL THINK I AM EXTREME … HOWEVER, I BELIEVE WE ARE SEEING THE DEMISE OF THE DIOCESEAN PRIESTHOOD IN FAVOR OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS … THEREFORE A DIOCESEAN SEMINARY IS NOT NEEDED … SPO HAS BEEN CRITICAL OF HIS PRIESTS SINCE HIS ARRIVAL.

  2. PriestsForTransparency.com says:

    Sad Boston Priest:
    I’d say the demise of the PRIESTHOOD, not just the diocesan priesthood.

    Who needs priests, when you have the likes of McDonough, Connors, Kaneb to run the Archdiocese, right?

    Why is it that SPO turns to these businessmen (2 of which serve on the board of the largest abortion provider in the state of massachusetts) instead of his priests as his primary collaborators?

    They have used the sexual abuse crisis to purge the Church of all of its priestly leaders at the pastoral center of the archdiocese. Classic overreaction.

    Cardinal O’Malley has let this all happen on this watch. History will look at his first 3 years and give him decent grades. But the rest has been a disaster. And it’s going downhill really fast.

  3. Joan Moran says:

    Reading the article about St. John’s Seminary from the Brighton/Allston Historical Society should make every Catholic in this diocese weep. The terrible thing done to the Church in Boston by its own Bishop is I think a grave sin. It is clear he would not sell the Seminary where he trained to be a priest but he does not care about Diocesan priests.

  4. Jack O'Malley says:

    Sad Boston Priest,

    This may not be altogether a bad thing (i.e. the demise of the diocesan priesthood.) After all, in ancient Ireland, there were no “parishes” but rather the clans congregated about a monastery. This is still a not unforgotten practice in Orthodoxy.

    How not to welcome a contingent of the FSSP, or the FSSPX? Out with the new order and in with the old! Just keep the Franciscans, Dominicans, and the bloody heterodox (I judge benignantly here) Jebbies out.

    Under the circumstances, even the ex-Anglo-Catholics are an improvement over the novus ordo. In point of fact, an immense improvement. The liturgy is traditional vis-à-vis the novus ordo; the language is exalted and sublime, though in the Saxon tongue. Benedict is to be lauded for his charity in providing for the ordinariates as a response to the petition of the Anglo-Catholics. They are most welcome back into the fold.

    Beyond that, when the FSSPX are reconciled, (not a major problem in my view — no dogmatic or pastoral stumbling blocks there, despite the hype — just whether Bernard Fellay gets a red hat) the rug will have been pulled from beneath the feet of the masonic-leaning hierarchy. SPO will have egg all over his untonsured chin. One way or another we will have a Church without the corrupt Brooks Drive oligarchy.

    Come to think of it, Bernard Cardinal Fellay strikes a sounder chord than Bernard Cardinal Law, no? No Geoghans and Shanleys et al. in Fellay’s closet. Ita utique speremus.

    Keep running the race, bloggers. The reward may well be proved to be temporal as well as eternal.

    • Liam says:

      The desire for the EF in the RCAB is still pretty marginal. Less marginal that 3 years ago, but still pretty marginal. I don’t see a change in that; if anything, flurries of curiousity that are not uniformly sustained. Then again, the RCAB has not been known in many generations (even well before Vatican II) for a luxuriating liturgical praxis: Boston’s largely Irish Catholics, like their Brahmin vexers, liked their public worship efficient. There were and are isolated oases of respite, but they have long been surrounded by a desert. Mumbled dry (music-free) Low Masses won’t help; that exception to the ostensible norm ate up the norm in these parts.

  5. Andrezj Jawie says:

    Not only has BC made plans to gut the chapel in Peterson, but when they renovated the chapel in St. Williams Hall, they erected a false wall to shrink it. And now BC wants to use the St. John’s Seminary Chapel because it will hold all students at the School of Theology and Ministry at their weekday Mass. Why the need to gut Peterson? Why the poor planning at St. Williams? Every consecrated space that is destroyed for a secular purpose is a great loss. I am a huge BC supporter, but I do not support the dismantling of the Peterson chapel.

    Additionally, BC does have a legitimate need for Bishop Peterson Hall. The reason for this is that the city of Boston has asked universities to be able to house all students. BC wants to build a dorm, but the people of Brighton do not want dorms on the Brighton property. Boston also said that BC could begin building on the Brighton property only after building at least one dorm. The way to do this is to move the offices from More Hall into Peterson, raze Peterson, and erect a dorm.

    Peterson should never have been sold, but now that is has, the Archdiocese has no chance of getting it back. However, the rooms above the refectory…not only should BC sell them back, but they should do so at a legitimate price, no strings attached. And they should let the Seminary rent the former music room for $1 a year, since BC cannot access it currently, as the only entrance is from St. John’s Hall.

  6. A Sad Boston Priest says:

    Dear Transparency:

    I completely agree !

    How good it is to see ‘in print’ the truth of what I have personally experienced as the truth for these past dark ten years.

    In addition I can not understand why the priests have remained so docile + quiet. It is reminiscent of the silence of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the Shaol.

    It seems that priests all remain in fear of the phone call / accusation which will throw him into the outer darkness, tried in the media, judged immediately guilty, betrayed by his bishop et al … presumed guilty without any hearing … unconstitutional and devoid of Gospel values without hope of reparation or reconciliation.

    Much innocent blood has been spilled and many have met premature ends.

    The promise of obedience to one’s ordinary presumes a covenant response … I don’t know many Boston priests who experience SPO as a spritual father or Pastoral shepherd.

    God help us but let us really help each other !!!

    • Liam says:

      Excuse me, but which innocent priests have been murdered in fact not metaphor by betrayal by their bishop in the RCAB? And is the scale of that number like the Shoah?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Prior to the 2004 sale B.C. had been given a lengthy lease to St. Clement’s Hall, as part of the sale that lease was converted to a sale.

    As for the Seminary, they should shutter St. John’s and create a Metropolitan Seminary for all of the Diocese connected to the Metropolitan See of Boston (RI, MA, ME, NH, VT) and build it (or Purchase) some location outside of Boston where the Seminarians don’t need to be surrounded by half naked coeds (they are normal young men and don’t need those distractions)….how about affiliate with Our Lady of Providence or build out near Worcester or Southern NH.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If any of you (people commenting) witnessed just one of the many positive things that are currently taking place at St. John’s Seminary, I guarantee that you would not be saying half of these doom-and-gloom predictions. There are excellent priests running St. John’s and it is not closing down anytime soon. So please, just stop! And nothing positive will ever come out of relentlessly trashing your bishop, I might add.

    To Jack O’Malley – you’re making this blog look bad by using it as a means for you to go off on silly rants against the Novus Ordo Mass. We all know the “smoke of Satan” entered the Church in the 70’s, but it’s slowly be purged under the guidance of Pope Benedict. Liturgical abuse is a cross that we just have to bear. Have patience, and in the mean time, offer it up and get over it!

    To the priests who have commented – some of the greatest saints were persecuted by their bishop, like Ignatius of Loyola. I can’t imagine what your situation is like, but please – don’t make overthrowing our corrupt chancery your number one priority in life. (That’s the impression you’ve given through your many comments on this blog). The only thing we really have to worry about is staying centered on Christ, striving for holiness, and saving the souls that the Lord puts in front of us.

    I’m scandalized and disheartened too by all that is going on in our Archdiocese, but just remember at the end of the day, it’s all about saving souls. Do what you can to stop the corruption (like what this blog is doing), but don’t lose sight of that goal.

    Keep up the great reporting, BCI.

    • Anonymous2 says:

      Note: I, who made the above comment, am not the same “anonymous” who made the prior comment about creating a metropolitan seminary. I should have used a different name.

  9. To Anonymous:

    My sentiments completely!!! I agree we must pray much for our Bishop Sean O’Malley who is caught up in satan’s web of compromising with the world instead of stepping out as St. Peter did trusting in the Lord for all -“Jesus, I trust in You”. In chasing after the money from the Jack Connors of the world who only seek power and control, he is losing sight of the main wealth of the church which the martyr St. Lawrence showed were the people of God’s church. Saving souls is definitely the ultimate goal and when the church once again becomes a place where the tired and downtrodden can go and get spiritual nourishment, then will it flourish once again! Just look at the beautiful churches, schools and hospitals that were built when the people of God lacked many material goods but wanted to show their thanks to God for all their “true blessings“.

    Please forgive many of us who in our ignorance all these years have not been praying for the trials that you priests have had to endure. Do know that many of us are now praying that your discouragement will be replaced with Joy and Hope. This blog is an excellent means of getting the word out as one cannot count on the media (including the Pilot) to tell us the whole truth. Do know that this blog is further proof that God is hearing and answering your prayers of despair by shedding light where there was only darkness so the needed changes can be made. Keep the faith. God is still in charge!

  10. Jack O'Malley says:

    Anonymous,

    The point of the “silly rants” is simply this: after the schools are cleansed of the heterodox teachers, and the seminaries of the lavender mafia, the churches will be swept clean of the liturgical abuses and their penultimate cause, viz., the reforms of the Freemason Bugnini. We both know what the ultimate cause is, I think. Paul VI’s “fissure through which the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” metaphor is ironically apt. For it was he himself that allowed the fissure to form.

    This is not a cross to be offered up. It is the direct result of the traitorous and catastrophic Roman Reformation nearly a half-century ago. This is not a cross that we have to bear, it is a cross to be raised as a battle standard against the usurpers of the Faith. Usurpers who still wield power in Christ’s Church. It is the Cross of the Milvian Bridge. In hoc Signo vinces. In eodem Signo vincemus.

    You can wallow in your acedia and hurl vaniloquent obloquy anonymously from your combox covert. Or you can stand up in defense of the Faith that was wrenched from us at that latter-day latrocinium. Decide. For myself, I think Heaven is worth the risk of Hell.

    Mischiate sono a quel cattivo coro
    de li angeli che non furon ribelli
    né fur fedeli a Dio, ma per sé fuoro.

    • Jerry says:

      Amen, Jack. There’s no reason to tempt the good God by suffering the novus ordo — especially if you’re raising kids. I got to the Latin Mass 18 years ago after fighting Cdl. Law over classroom sex-ed. That was just before I got married, Deo gratias!

      The seminary was a hellhole back then, too. The rector, Fr. Moran, didn’t have the Faith. I heard him on Good Friday at the Cathedral (1991?) attribute Our Lord’s words, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” to His lack of understanding of why He was being Crucified. I was stunned, but kept listening. And he said it again! Cdl. Law was 10 feet away hearing confessions.

      I have it on solid testimony that the seminary had a beer keg and big-screen TV. That devotions such as the Rosary, were kept low key to avoid ridicule. That Sr. Zita Flemming would bring a homo into her classroom (she was an instructor!) to soften up the men. It was clear to me that, should a seminarian wish to preserve his chastity, he would be wise to keep a pie tin in his pants.

      Should I imagine that this is all cleaned up now? That our manly cardinal has cleared out the lavender types?

  11. Just Another Priest says:

    I am saddened by the thought that such an historic and important part of the History of the RCAB is getting squeezed out. I, too, don’t have enough confidence in the Cardinal to hold onto any hope that things will be better as quickly as most of us would like.
    Take a look at our good priests, most of whom have prayed daily in that Chapel. Think of their times of struggle and questioning as they discerned their own vocations. And please think about how much good has come from St. John’s…and please God will continue to come from there.
    Many good priests are right now, trying to just get through every day with Parishioners that can sometimes be unreasonable, with zero support from our own leadership and the struggles of living in isolation in many of our rectories. It’s a great life, but also a very hard life, especially with all of the division in the Church.
    BCI does us all a great service by keeping the actions of RCAB in the public discussion. But for most of us, prayer is the only thing we can add. Like the woman and the unjust judge, she recieved a “just” judgement in the midst of corruption. Maybe our prayers can bring about the same good.

    Sorry to be so preachy…gotta go write a “real” homily now!

  12. Objective Observer says:

    Jack,

    Reel it in, fella.

    The seminary has a full complement of good men from Boston and a lot of other places, who likely have very good teachers. Read: Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition. It’s a pretty good book, and according to the book, three of its essayists teach at St. John’s. It’s edited by a sort of hero of mine, Fr. Matthew Lamb, who, perish the thought, once supervised Ph.D. candidates at BC.

    You’ll be delighted to know, that according to the seminary’s online Academic Catalogue, they offer a Latin course… taught by a man who learned it at Oxford.

    When I was in college, the “smoke of Satan” came from funny little cigarettes in the hands of the kids who spent a year abroad in Rome, and expounded in Italian while they were blowing blue haze. Dante was their favorite. I must be a lot older than you are.

    When you’re trying to damn Paul VI as loosey-goosey, Jack, it’s probably time to go for some fresh air.

    Peace.

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