The St. Joseph parish house (also called a rectory, located directly across Common Street from St. Joseph Church) was unfortunately neglected for many years. Built in 1880, it had many outdated systems as well as significant deferred maintenance. The cost of renovation and updating for modest results was determined to be approaching a million dollars. Clearly, this was not a reasonable or appropriate option in keeping with Pope Francis’s direction about a simple lifestyle for priests.
The suggestion that the property be sold had been floated repeatedly, helping us to recognize a great opportunity. Following a site survey and consultation of the zoning regulations, it became clear that the property could be subdivided, permitting the sale of the existing building and allowing St. Joseph to retain the subdivided lot at 345 Waverley Street for future use. The parish proceeded with this plan in late 2015: the land was subdivided and the old rectory building and lot was sold.
The original plan was to use the proceeds of the sale of the rectory to cover the cost of building a new rectory on the subdivided lot. However, it was determined that building a new rectory would require use of almost all of the funds from the proceeds of the sale of the rectory, which did not make it a good option as other capital improvements are and will be needed at St. Joseph.
Instead of building a new rectory at St. Joseph, it was decided that a more prudent path forward would be to use the St. Luke rectory as a residence exclusively. The Guidelines for Rectory Living established by the Archdiocese of Boston require parishes to provide living space for clergy separate from office buildings. Disciples in Mission, the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese, encourages that every consideration be given to encouraging priests to live in common rectories. Given this, St. Luke’s rectory will be used as a residence-only space where our pastor, Fr. Thom, and our parochial vicar, Fr. John, reside.
This also means that our collaborative offices will move to St. Joseph, which will house all staff by the end of this year. Since the existing first floor office space at St. Joseph does not accommodate our team and is more essential space for parish and ministry meetings, the decision was made to convert the 3rd floor of the building between the church and the hall into office space. (Belmont Cooperative Nursery School continues to rent space on the second floor of that building.)
There are several benefits to these changes:
- The ability to provide a residence-only space for our two priests.
- The ability for our staff to be in one facility which enhances collaboration and efficiency on our team.
- The cost is substantially less than building a new rectory; only a portion of the funds from the sale of the rectory are being used to construct the offices. This allows us to have sufficient funds left over for additional capital improvements projects for the St. Joseph facility as required.
- We have still retained the subdivided lot at 345 Waverley Street for future use.
By the end of this year, we will have transitioned our collaborative offices to St. Joseph. Stay tuned for an announcement about exactly when that will happen! In the meantime, please contact our Finance and Operations manager, Lou Fabrizio (firstname.lastname@example.org), with any questions.