Central administration makes move to Braintree

BRIGHTON -- In the midst of observing its bicentennial year, the Archdiocese of Boston marks another significant milestone with the move of its central administration to the new Pastoral Center in Braintree.

Most archdiocesan employees worked their last day at the chancery property in Brighton on June 25. Plans call for the offices to be closed while the moving company hired by the archdiocese, Mark’s Moving and Storage, Inc., transport boxes on June 26. On the 27th, employees have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the new building and unpack before the center will be up and running on June 30.

An estimated 50 offices with 225 employees were slated to relocate during the week of June 23 to 27, said Kevin Kiley, archdiocesan director of planning and projects. “We are making history. It’s a very exciting time,” he said.

Kiley added that the change of venue benefits the archdiocese in many ways. The “primary benefit” will be bringing the offices into one building, which will lead to more collaboration and coordination, he said.

The administrative offices of the archdiocese have made their home on the Brighton property since the late 1920s.

Currently, the central administration is located in six different buildings -- three on the Brighton property and three off-site -- Catholic Schools Office in Dorchester, the Metropolitan Tribunal in West Roxbury and the Propagation of the Faith in Boston.

The Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach, which helps those dealing with the aftermath of clergy abuse, will move to Braintree as well but will not be located at the Pastoral Center. The only office of the central administration that will not moving to Braintree is the Pro-Life Office, which will retain its current location in Natick.

The Pastoral Center will feature new office furniture and equipment, a new phone system, state-of-the-art conference rooms, upgraded technology, more efficient use of workspace and a cafeteria. The cafeteria, run by Elena’s Cafe, will offer breakfast, lunch and catering for events at the center as needed.

Another change will be a tightening of security at the new building. Visitors will be required to sign in with a security officer, be given a visitor’s pass and the person they are visiting will be required to come down to the front desk to meet them, Kiley said.

The Brighton property has been home to the archdiocese’s central administration since the late 1920s. The archdiocese reached an agreement with Boston College in 2004 to sell 43 acres of the campus, including the cardinal’s residence and other buildings, for $99.4 million. In 2006, the archdiocese sold the Tribunal building and property to BC for $8 million.

In May of last year, the archdiocese sold what remained of its Brighton property, excluding St. John’s Seminary, to BC for $65 million. Soon after, the archdiocese acquired the 10-year-old, 140,000-square-foot Braintree building from The Flatley Company.

Kiley said updates to the building began “almost immediately.” Mike Themeli Construction did “good work” constructing offices and creating a chapel that will accommodate 150 worshippers, which is nearly four times the capacity of the Brighton chapel.

Kiley also complimented Mark’s Moving and Storage, saying “They have been a tremendous help to us in this process. We are doing something unprecedented and they have helped to make it as smooth a transition as possible.”

One office that presented a particular challenge for the movers was the archdiocesan archives. They moved 4,500 cubic feet of records in five large trucks over the course of a week.

Robert Johnson-Lally, archivist and records manager, said the “large undertaking” involved identifying all the items that would move, marking them and then transporting them.

“We knew we had a large collection,” he said. “It seemed that no matter how much there was to do, there was always more.”

The archive’s last move was in 1992 when they made an internal move on the Brighton property. In recent years, the amount of records kept have increased, due to more offices placing paperwork in archives and sacramental records coming from parishes closed in reconfiguration, he said.

The new space in Braintree is a more modern facility tailored to the needs of the archives office. The shelves are more efficient so that more can be held in a smaller space, he added.

The archives will continue to be closed to the general public in the coming months as the archivists sort through and organize all of the records at the new building, he said.

The closing Mass for the Brighton property, held on June 19 at St. John’s Seminary chapel, was an opportunity to bid farewell to the chancery and to the seminary, which will remain in Brighton.

Father Robert Oliver, BH, a faculty member at the seminary, told chancery employees before the Mass, “Pray for us. We will be praying for you.”

Sister Dorothea Masuret, chair of the Transition Committee meant to help employees through the move, said the Mass was designed to help employees with the transition.

“We move through times of difficulty in the spirit of faith, and the strongest expression of our faith is in the Eucharist,” said Sister Dorothea, director of the office of lay ecclesial ministries for the archdiocese.

Sister Mary Corripio, SND, coordinator of ethnic ministries for the Office of Cultural Diversity, has been charged with the task of moving the chancery chapel’s sacred objects, including the vestments, vessels, candles and sticks and the crucifix.

“All of those things will find a home in our new chapel,” she said.

The crucifix, which has been in the chancery chapel for the last 40 years, will be moved to the new chapel as a symbol of continuity. It was processed out of the closing Mass and will be processed into the new building, she said.

“The cross has always been a central sign for us in Boston,” she said, noting that the archdiocese’s cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Cross.

The new chapel, which will be cared for by the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, who will also have a gift shop in the building, is still under construction and will not be in use until the fall, she said. In the meantime, the archdiocese will set up a temporary chapel so that employees can continue to attend daily Mass.

Sister Mary said that archdiocesan employees must keep Christ at the center of their service to the Church.

“Part of our ministry is praying together and worshipping together,” she added.