Gate of Heaven Parish History
2004-Present: Preparing for the FutureBoston's Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM and Bishop Richard Lennon announced a major plan to reconfigure the Archdiocese by reducing the number of parishes in the Archdiocese. The Catholic Parishes of South Boston came together using set criteria to discuss the future of parishes in the area. Since no common consensus could be reached, each parish submitted a one page report displaying the positive attributes of their parish community. It was publicly reported that Gate of Heaven Parish was recommended for closure. Outraged and angry, parishioners started a grassroots project to "Save Gatey." On Palm Sunday 2004, over 1200 people gathered for a Mass of Hope for the safety of Gate of Heaven Parish. It was in early June of 2004 that Fr. Casey received a letter stating that Gate of Heaven Parish would remain open.
The parish set out on a Capital Campaign to restore the historic Church. The Church was in great needs of repairs to its walls, roof, paint, ceilings, lights, heating system, grounds, and drainage system. A massive project was undertaken and led by David Sullivan, the property manager, to restore Gate of Heaven. With the help of generous donations by parishioners, and the sale of the former rectory and gym buildings opposite the Church, nearly $6 million was raised to restore and restabalize the parish. The Church underwent repairs for nearly a year, and the upper Church was closed during the week and only open for Saturday and Sunday services. Funerals and weddings were diverted to St. Brigid Parish as Gate of Heaven was updated, re-painted, and re-bricked.
In all, as the pictures below display, the Church was transformed into an even more breathtaking, marvelous Church, with the restoration of the original colors to the walls, cleaning of the stone inside, re-pointing of bricks, placement of new bricks, new copper drainpipes and downspouts, new plumbing, a new handicapped ramp, entrance, elevator, and doors, and the installation of new radiators to heat the Church during the winter months.
All of this was possible due to the support of the parishioners determined to save their Church and restore it to prestine condition. Those generous parishioners got their first look at the newly restored Church during the Easter Vigil in 2006. As the Gloria played and the trumphet sounded, the lights were turned on to the gasp of the parishioners leading Fr. Casey to ask, "Do you like it?" to which the parishioners responded with a thunderous applause. The Church, under Fr. Casey, had overcome another hurrdle.
In the following years and up to present day, the restored Church has constantly awed visitors. The Lower Church was renovated and completed in 2009. A new chapel was made using the original altar of the church which was previously covered up. Additionally, a parish hall was made out of the other half of the lower level. The hall serves as a gathering place after masses and for functions. The Parish now serves the community's needs for baptisms, communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals.
In 2008, after much review and consideration, it was announced that Gate of Heaven Parish's school would merge with neighboring St. Brigid school to form a new Catholic school, South Boston Catholic Academy. The economic down turn that the country was experiencing and low enrollment spurred the need for a cost effective alternative for the parish and for parents. The new school, located at the old St. Brigid school, would house all students and faculty from both former schools. The new school would provide students with a complete Catholic education and would incorporate the strengths of both former schools to make one, more efficient school. South Boston Catholic Academy opened in September 2009 with over 360 students! The new school provides for Faith, Family and Academic Excellence.
The Parish has also seen a fair share of parochial vicars over the past few years. Fr. Paul White, long time son of Gate of Heaven (for over 40 years!) has moved on to eternal life, along with longtime Deacon Richard Martin. Fr. Dan Hennessey has moved on to be Vocations Director for the Archdiocese. Fr. Brian Flynn has moved on to a pastor assignment in St. Mary's-Lynn. Fr. Benjamin LeTran has moved to a new assignment in Swampscot. Fr. David Shoemaker is currently studying for an advanced degree in Psychology. Fr. Christopher Palladino is still a student in Washington and a vicar in Westwood. Fr. Ed Doughty is now the Chaplin at UMASS-Boston and Salem State University. Of the priests who departed to new assignments, the one common statement each made was how they would never forget the people and lessons they learned at Gate of Heaven Parish.
Jump to... 1865 Establishing a Parish