Immaculate Conception closes in the South End

SOUTH END -- It was a full house July 29 at the closing Mass of the landmark Immaculate Conception Church, known in recent years as the Jesuit Urban Center.

In April, the Jesuits announced the closing of the church, ending a 146-year presence in the South End. The financial cost of operating the JUC, declining Mass attendance and revenue as well as some serious maintenance problems with the building were cited as reasons for closing the church.

In 1841, Bishop John B. Fitzpatrick invited the Jesuits to come to a growing Archdiocese of Boston. Father John McElroy, SJ, founder of Boston College toured the city looking for a suitable site to erect a church, high school and college. After encountering resistance from city authorities, he settled on a site in the fashionable South End.

Ground was broken for Immaculate Conception Church in 1858. The cornerstone was laid in 1859. The beautiful edifice, built entirely of New Hampshire granite, was dedicated on Oct. 14, 1861 by Bishop Fitzpatrick. With appropriate ceremonies, the church was solemnly consecrated by Archbishop John J. Williams on Aug. 15, 1875.

Immaculate Conception Church was designed by Patrick C. Keely, a prominent Catholic architect of the time whose work also included the nearby Holy Cross Cathedral. Architectural historians who have researched the history of the church believe that the interior was probably influenced by another Boston architect of the time, Arthur Gilman. One of the church’s most attractive features is the 30-foot high windows with light-gray etched glass that fill the church with natural light.

In 1863, Boston College was established at the site and was based on a seven-year program combining high school and college. Father McElroy lived to see his great church go hand-in-hand with a Catholic college educating Irish immigrants during a time of racial and religious intolerance in the city. He died on Oct. 3, 1864. For 50 years, the college and high school shared the same site, twice enlarged and inseparable. In 1913, the college left the South End for a new site at Chestnut Hill in Newton, beginning a new era for Boston College. Boston College High remained. The two institutions were legally separated in 1927. In 1950, Boston College High, having outgrown the South End site, moved to a new location on Columbia Point.

During the time of Cardinal Richard J. Cushing, Immaculate Conception -- never a parish church -- continued to draw immense crowds impressed with its beautiful interior, fine music and fine preaching and retreats conducted by the Jesuits. The centennial of the dedication was commemorated by a Mass of Thanksgiving led by Cardinal Cushing on Dec. 10, 1961. A banquet followed at the Catholic Alumni Sodality Hall.

Urban renewal in the 1960s had an effect on Immaculate Conception Church in an over-churched South End. By the 1980s, the upper church was rarely used. In 1986, the Jesuits began a renovation of the church that offended preservationists and art scholars. A 1987 Boston Landmarks Commission designation of the interior as a city landmark was ruled invalid by a superior court ruling in 1989. In the 1990s the Jesuit Urban Center, as the church came to be called, came alive again with a well-attended Mass on Sunday mornings attracting Catholics from throughout the area. The interior, while not as spectacular as in earlier times, was redesigned with individual chairs arranged around a new sanctuary area.

A steering committee formed this year to investigate a new worshipping site for the Immaculate Conception congregation has recommended that they attend Mass at St. Cecilia Church in the Back Bay. Father John Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia’s addressed the congregation at the closing Mass and encouraged all to join St. Cecilia’s.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...