Father Joseph O'Keefe, SJ, dean of the Bosotn College Lynch School of Education; St. Columbkille pastor Msgr. William Fay, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and BC president Father William Leahy, SJ, are pictured outside St. Columbkille Church Oct. 22. Pilot photo/Patrick E. O'Connor
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BRIGHTON— Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Boston College President Father William P. Leahy, SJ, and St. Columbkille pastor Msgr. William Fay concelebrated an Oct. 22 Mass at St. Columbkille Parish in celebration of the successful partnership forged between BC and the Archdiocese of Boston that has ensured the survival of the last Catholic elementary school in Boston’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood.
The Mass was attended by 800 parishioners, students, parents, faculty and friends of St. Columbkille.
Since entering into the partnership in March, St. Columbkille School has undergone a dramatic turnaround in physical plant, curriculum and hope for the future. Enrollment has increased to 285 students this year, up significantly from previous years.
Boston College has improved St. Columbkille’s facilities and provided state-of-the-art approaches to teaching and learning, comprehensive support services and extended programs.
“We did some major renovations for the pre-school and kindergarten grades, like new lighting, carpeting, new equipment and furnishings,” said Thomas Keady, BC’s vice president of governmental and community affairs. “We purchased a new security system, got new computers and helped develop a new curriculum through our Catholic education experts at our Lynch School of Education.”
In addition, BC students are teaching, tutoring and volunteering in the school, and the university has established a program in which current St. Columbkille teachers can take graduate-level courses at BC tuition-free in exchange for an extended teaching commitment at the elementary school.
University administrators predict that the unique partnership will produce even greater rewards as the BC-St. Columbkille alliance establishes a national model for the survival and growth of urban Catholic schools across America.
“One of the critical contributions that Catholic universities can provide is reaching out to the needs of the local diocese,” said Michael James, executive director of BC’s Center for Catholic Education and the newly named president of the St. Columbkille Board of Trustees. “The best way to be a ‘church’ in our contemporary society is to work together.”