Why Braintree?

On May 24, at 4 p.m., Cardinal Seán signed a memo of intent with Boston College to sell our property in Brighton with the exception of St. John’s Seminary.

Cardinal Seán entered this agreement only after consulting with, and receiving the positive recommendations of the St. John’s Seminary Board of Trustees, the archdiocesan finance council and the College of Consultors. Earlier in the day, the cardinal, Chancellor McDonough, Scot Landry and I met with the employees of the archdiocese to discuss the pending agreement. That evening the cardinal presented the agreement to the archdiocesan pastoral council. We have entered into this agreement with Boston College, but there is still much to be done before the intention of the agreement is realized, including receiving the approval of the Holy See.

We have received a lot of feedback about this agreement. Some see this agreement, and the establishment of a new pastoral center in Braintree, as a very positive move forward for the archdiocese and see great benefits with St. John’s Seminary being located on the same property as Boston College and the Weston School of Theology. Others feel the archdiocese is making a poor move that will negatively impact St. John’s Seminary and, sadly, leave a beautiful campus in the city for a less central location in Braintree. I would like to mention some factors that were important in this decision, which I hope will put our move to Braintree in perspective.

he Braintree building is ideally suited for our needs. The facility will help us be better coordinated and, in the end, help us better serve the archdiocese. Currently our offices are scattered in many locations where we are paying substantial rent and we do not have the facilities to meet the needs of the archdiocese. Cardinal Seán has a vision of a spiritual and pastoral center in Braintree that will help us move forward in service to the Lord and each other.

The cardinal’s commitment to St. John’s Seminary has been, and remains, complete. The rich history and mission of St. John’s Seminary on the Brighton campus is deeply respected and valued as it prepares men to serve the Church in this millennium. Our hope is that St. John’s will benefit from the resources and investment of Boston College and the Weston School of Theology, all the while continuing to focus on its mission to prepare men for the diocesan priesthood. We are certain our faculty and seminarians will be a very positive presence for Boston College and the Weston School of Theology.

The long-term financial health of the archdiocese is critical to our ability to achieve our mission. The sale of the Brighton campus will save us $2.7 million annually in debt service on our loan with the Knights of Columbus. With this obligation eliminated we can finally get our budget balanced and maintain fiscal stability.

We would not be selling the Brighton property and moving to Braintree if it were not for the generosity of Mr. Thomas Flatley, who is offering us a modern office building in Braintree at preferred terms, which we can transform into a beautiful pastoral center. Without Mr. Flatley’s offer, moving from Brighton would not make sense. We would have sold the property and spent much of what we received from the property to rebuild or establish a new site.

Why are we planning on moving to Braintree in 2008? We are moving because of Cardinal Seán’s vision of a pastoral center that will help us better serve the archdiocese. We are moving because, as has been so typical of our history, a generous Catholic came forward to help Cardinal Seán’s vision become a reality. We are moving to Braintree to continue our efforts to provide a new beginning for the archdiocese. We are moving to Braintree to help make our archdiocese a stronger and brighter reflection of the ministry of Christ.

Father Erikson is vicar general and moderator of the curia of the Archdiocese of Boston.