Parishioners at St. Brendan Church, church at epicenter of Boston clergy sex abuse crisis, fight to keep doors open

WCVB - ABC 5 [Boston MA]

May 5, 2022

By Katie Thompson

A Catholic church in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood that was home to defrocked priest and convicted child molester John Geoghan is at risk of having its doors closed for good.

Parishioners at St. Brendan Church said they have been fighting for years to save it but said the Archdiocese of Boston has not responded to their ideas.

The current pastor, the Rev. Chris Palladino, told parishioners May 31 could be the last Mass, citing poor attendance, mounting debt and a laundry list of needed repairs.

Hundreds of parishioners are now rallying for the church to stay open.

“This is a cradle-to-grave type of place for us. Baptisms, communions, all the way to funerals and all of the life events in between,” said John O’Toole.

The church was also a backdrop for the Catholic church sex abuse scandal, but parishioner O’Toole said in spite of that, the parish has remained strong.

“We’re owed something here. And that’s never been talked about. This community has suffered greatly, yet we’re still here we’re still fighting and we’ll keep swinging until that last day,” he said.

The fate of the church is now up to Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“All matters concerning St. Brendan are under consideration at the Archdiocese. No decisions have been made as of this time,” the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement to WCVB.

“Here we are at this point, and hopefully, we can get that sit down with the cardinal and make our case,” O’Toole said.

Behind the church sits St. Brendan School, which O’Toole said is filled to capacity with a waiting list.
The archdiocese says the school is not at risk of closing. But parishioners say it is representative of the younger community that would like to continue to call the church home for years to come.

“That really demonstrates the vitality and the future of this parish,” O’Toole said.

In an effort to get the attention of O’Malley, parishioners are planning to stand outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End after his 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday.