, Salem, MA

January 3, 2013

Letter: Archdiocese has lost sight of its mission

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Is it just me or has the Archdiocese of Boston lost its mission in the community and church?

Two articles in the Salem News published on Thursday, Dec. 20, on the front page greatly disturbed me. The first article, “Demolition begins on church convent,” explains the plan of the diocese to tear down the church building sometime in January. This is all part of their plan to build affordable housing on the site. Initially, this sounds like a good idea. The question I have is why the Archdiocese of Boston is now in the housing rental market. The Planning Office for Urban Affairs, an archdiocesan-affiliated developer, is in the process of building 51 apartments with retail space on that site. This is a project more commonly conceived by a private developer. Shouldn’t the church, our church, our religion, be tending to the business of propagating the faith?

The archdiocese has admittedly stated that they have erred in closing down so many churches and no more will be closed and sold. St. Joseph Church in Salem could have been reopened as late as one year ago. The property was and is still owned by the church before the demolishing began.

All of the preceding is certainly not new information to the readers of The Salem News, the citizens of Salem or the members of the Catholic parishes in Salem. St. Mary’s Italian Church was the only other beautiful church closed in Salem. Because of their proximity to the downtown area, these two churches, both with exceptional value, were chosen to defray the high cost of settling the court’s decision of pedophile priests in the diocese.

The second article in the News that day was located on the top of the front page pertaining to, you guessed it, the Archdiocese of Boston: “Archdiocese rejects independent Catholic school for Salem.” Amazing, all the diocese had to do was lease the property to the Nativity Preparatory School system, which successfully operates several other similar schools in the Boston area and is not part of the archdiocese’s school system. The concept of this independent Catholic school has one mission. They would target male students from low-income families, particularly from the city’s largely Latino Point neighborhood. This would have presented a huge opportunity to those children in need.

As Lucy Corchado stated, “Here’s an opportunity for low-income, underprivileged kids to get a private education for free and for the archdiocese to kind of turn that down was surprising to me.”

Barry Hynes, a former Boston city councilor who helped start Nativity Prep schools in Boston and New Bedford, stated, “I’m just kind of disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement with them on the building. It’s a wonderful location. We could have done a nice job with that building.”

The above paragraph explains it all. It is a wonderful location but for the business-oriented Planning Office for Urban Affairs, which I am certain has or will have plans to build apartments with retail space on that site, as well. Remember, this is another piece of church property with proximity to the downtown area and as such is very valuable.

It appears to me that the Archdiocese of Boston has definitely lost their mission and has made another bad choice, sacrificing education and religion for monetary reasons.

Joseph R. Ingemi Jr.