By Sal Giarratani
The Church of the Immaculate Conception Church, which has been closed for almost a decade, now, is about to be deconsecrated by the Archdiocese of Boston and with Boston College and the developer will remove most of the religious artifacts including its once beautiful altar. The church celebrated its centennial back when I was 12 years old and was constructed as part of the original Boston College campus. In its final years, it was rebranded as the Jesuit Urban Center before closing in 2007.
The news is bittersweet that a Natick development company, 761 Harrison Church LLC, led by Ronald Simons and Rodwell Pines Corp. is now proposing 63 apartments, including units in the basement. The new residential complex will be called The Cosmopolitan.
As someone who grew up in my youth in the 50s and 60s on East Springfield Street for many years, along with my younger brother, Dominic, we were altar boys there. In its last half-century of existence, it was Rector Father Francis J. Gilday who held the place together. He even got a street renamed in his honor for everything he did in this corner of the South End surrounding old Boston City Hospital back in the day when the neighborhood was a working class blue collar community years removed from its eventual gentrification.
The selling of the church now completes the selling off of the entire Jesuit block between East Newton and East Concord Streets, Harrison Avenue and old James Street now Gilday Way.
I can remember when old Boston College High School moved to Dorchester when I was eight years old and now it is luxury condos. As altar boys we would always go on safaris through the closed up high schools where time stood still. Books still on the desks, homework assignments still written in chalk and a grand movie theatre the neighborhood never knew exists.
You know there’s an old song that goes, “All good things must end.” I am not surprised what is happening to this church and all my memories that go along with it.
I must have gone to confession at this edifice one hundred thousand times or so it seems. You always wanted Father George Hanlon for confession and never Father Jerry Lynch but I confess right now, I am so glad that the Immaculate Conception will live forever inside me. It was a great time and a great place.
Hopefully, the new tenants who will live inside it will see the beauty of the place I found so many years ago.
Sal Giarratani is a local writer.