Enrollment growth prompts Boston archdiocesan seminary to buy back space

By Donis Tracy

BRIGHTON, Mass. (CNS) — Rapid growth
in the number of men entering St. John’s Seminary in Brighton to study for the
priesthood has prompted the Boston Archdiocese to buy back space from Boston
College to accommodate the increase.

Msgr. James Moroney, seminary rector,
signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Jesuit-run college Oct. 20 to buy
back more than 13,000 square feet of space within the current seminary

“I am so very happy to be able
to announce the purchase of the annex,” Msgr. Moroney said. “Right after I
became rector of the seminary, one of the great dreams that both Cardinal (Sean
P.) O’Malley and I began to articulate was the restoration of the seminary to a
certain wholeness.”

By purchasing the annex, located
above the present kitchen and refectory space, the current St. John’s Seminary
buildings will now be owned “free and clear, without any leases or encumbrances
of any kind” by the seminary, Msgr. Moroney said.

Built in 1884 by Boston Archbishop
John Joseph Williams, the seminary had seen the number of seminarians dropping
significantly, to an all-time low of 22 men studying for the priesthood in

“Having experienced, in the last
10 years, the most extraordinary growth the seminary has witnessed in its
entire lifetime,” Msgr. Moroney continued, “we are in desperate need for

He said in September, when
the seminarians returned to St. John’s Seminary, there were 98 men living at the

“We had seven more men than
space for them,” he said with a smile, adding that the St. John’s Seminary board
of trustees purchased a neighboring house for additional space. The property,
called Cheverus House, currently is home to seven of the 12 deacons at the

The annex became part of Boston
College in the early 2000s. Having purchased St. Clement Hall, a building adjacent
to the seminary, they asked St. John’s Seminary for additional rooms not being
used. Because the annex had not been used since the 1960s, the seminary agreed
to a 99-year lease on the facility.

With the signing of the purchase
and sale agreement, Msgr. Moroney explained, St. John’s Seminary has bought
back that 99-year lease.

This comes after “extended
discussions” between Msgr. Moroney, Cardinal O’Malley and Jesuit Father William
Leahy, president of Boston College.

“I doubt there’s been a month
that has gone by since I became rector when Cardinal Sean and I have not spoken
about this,” said Msgr. Moroney, who has been in the post since July 2012.

Msgr. Moroney noted that since
the annex has not been used since the mid-1960s, the rooms “will have to be
brought back to the studs” and remodeled. Currently, three different
architectural firms have brought their proposals to the seminary’s board of

“There is enormous possibility
that our newly returned annex can bring,” the rector said.

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Tracy writes for The Pilot,
newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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