One year later, move to new Pastoral Center praised

BRAINTREE -- One year after relocating from Brighton to Braintree, officials praised the move saying the Archdiocese of Boston’s central administration is now more effective and collaborative.

“We have created a great workspace,” said Kevin Kiley, director of budget and planning who coordinated the move.

“It’s really been a beehive of activity.”

Previously, the archdiocese’s more than 200 employees were scattered through seven buildings in four different locations -- Boston, Dorchester, Natick and West Roxbury. The consolidation has led to decreased costs and increased communication between employees, he said.

Kiley said that employees quickly acclimated to their new surroundings, even those who were uncertain about how the move would change their workplace.

The move has also led to the unexpected interaction between Catholics throughout the archdiocese and those who work at the Pastoral Center, Kiley added.

The foot traffic at the new building has increased as many faithful attend meetings, workshops or daily Mass there, he said.

Father George Szal, SM, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere and a regular visitor to the center, said the new building is spacious and more convenient to drive to than the chancery in Brighton.

“There’s a new spirit in the archdiocese. There’s more of a desire to work together. Our parishes are not little islands out there, little fortresses in competition with each other. We are engaged in something bigger. That’s what the Pastoral Center does,” he said.

The Brighton property was home to the archdiocese’s central administration from the late 1920s to last year. The first parcel of property was sold to Boston College in 2004, the second in 2006 and the remaining property and buildings, save St. John’s Seminary, in 2007.

When Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley announced the final sale, he said the relocation of the central administration was part of a strategic, long-term plan to strengthen the archdiocese.

The archdiocese was provided a 10-year-old, 140,000 square foot building in Braintree by Thomas Flatley, a long-time benefactor of the archdiocese who passed away in May 2008. A plaque honoring him was dedicated at the center on Oct. 19, 2008.

The Braintree building, which opened on June 30 last year, features more modern meeting spaces, a larger chapel, more parking, a staffed cafeteria and greater classroom space. There is a new phone system, state-of-the-art conference rooms and upgraded technology.

Scot Landry, director of the archdiocese’s development office, said the building is “nobly simple in its design,” and that it is a reflection of the archdiocese’s commitment to practice “good financial stewardship.”

“The new building has lived up to our hopes and expectations,” he said.

Mayor Joe Sullivan of Braintree said the Pastoral Center is a beautiful facility that has enriched the community in faith.

“We feel blessed with their presence,” he said of the archdiocesan employees.

Susan Abbott, Office of Religious Education, said the employees in turn are blessed to be in Braintree.

“I have already realized great benefits in the work we do and firmly believe that being here at the Pastoral Center impacts for the better our efforts to serve and rebuild the Church in Boston,” she said.

Many people cite the Bethany Chapel, which was dedicated last October, as the heart of the new building. Daily Mass is open to all, and 60-80 Catholics attend, with more worshippers during Lent. Adoration is offered every weekday. Confessions are heard once a week and every day during Lent.

Sean Folan of Randolph said he attends Mass at the Bethany Chapel every weekday.

“I’ll keep coming here as long as I am able,” he said.

Father Richard Erikson, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, said the archdiocese continues to make improvements on the Pastoral Center, developing the building as a sanctifying place.

Over the past year a large cross was affixed to the outside of the building and religious objects have been placed throughout. Most recently, the entrance was redesigned by removing a revolving door and placing a statue of Mary in its stead. Plans to put a statue of St. Patrick at the front of the building are still underway.

“We are in an office park, but we work in a very spiritual and pastoral space,” Father Erikson said.