Published: November 2007
For Boston-area Catholics, the 64-acre parcel of Brighton land that Boston College acquired in several purchases in the last three years was the center of the Catholic Church for more than a century. Its buildings were home to the archbishop (or cardinal), the archdiocesan administration, and the seminary that trained priests for their parishes.
On October 2, and again on October 4, history professor James O’Toole ’72, Ph.D.’87 led walking tours of the Brighton Campus to familiarize University faculty and staff with the new property, its structures, and its lore. O’Toole told of the fire that razed the first seminary building and described changes to the central administration building, made when its employees had to live there because a priest raised rents at the neighborhood rectory. He pointed out the sole remaining monument to the order of Sulpician priests who once taught at the seminary but were forced to leave by Archbishop O’Connell, who apparently bore a grudge against their order for rejecting his initial efforts to become a priest.
A former archivist for the archdiocese, O’Toole was appointed this fall to the history department’s new Charles I. Clough Millennium Chair. He is the author or co-editor of nine books, most devoted to the history of Catholic Boston, including Guide to the Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston (Garland Publishing, 1982), and Militant and Triumphant: William Henry O’Connell and the Catholic Church in Boston 1859-1944 (University of Notre Dame Press, 1992). @BC presents video highlights of the tour.