Saint Monica's Parish
On November 4, 1900, Archbishop Williams blessed and dedicated this new center of worship, St. Monica’s Chapel. This was a very appropriate name since St. Monica had been the mother of Saint Augustine. Not yet an independent parish, St. Monica’s Chapel was then a mission of St. Augustine’s. The formation of St. Monica’s parish in 1907 was one of the first swells of a major tide of change which was to sweep through the Boston Archdiocese.
Finally, with an abundance of priests and an eye to quicken the spiritual life of his people by bringing the Church closer to them, the Archbishop set about forming new parishes from the older parishes swollen by immigration. St. Monica’s Parish was formed as part of this sweeping new program. In December, 1907, less than four months after the new Archbishop began his rule, St. Monica’s became an independent parish. Indeed, 1908, the first full year of St. Monica’s as a parish, marked the maturity of the American Catholic Church.
Through the first three decades of the parish’s existence many good priests tended to the spiritual needs of their growing young parish. The first pastor was Fr. Timothy J. Mahoney who would remain at St. Monica’s until 1915. In October, 1908, Fr. Mahoney wrote to the Archbishop that many Polish immigrants were crowding into the district but that he did not yet need another assistant.
The late 1930’s were to bring major change to St. Monica’s parish. The first federal housing project in America, Old Harbor Village, was built on swampy land fill near the water’s edge. In a letter to the Car dinal dated June 29, 1937, Fr. Doherty wrote “within three months the South Boston Housing Project will be in operation in this parish. This means an additional 4500 people for the district. . . . At least eighty per cent of these people will be Catholic.” He went on to suggest that their wooden church which seated only 500 was inadequate but that the Federal government was willing to sell to St. Monica’s some property directly opposite the housing project. By 1939, however, Fr. Doherty had begun planning for a new church. In March the temporary wooden building was disposed of. In November of 1940, Car dinal O’Connell asked Fr. Doherty to submit plans for a new Church. In 1949, Fr. Daniel Golden became pastor and the long delayed plans for a new church received new life.
In 1957, St. Monica’s parish enjoyed its Golden Jubilee Celebration. A solemn High Mass was again celebrated by Archbishop Gushing as part of the remembrance. The parish was most fortunate in obtaining the services of Sister Ellen Paul, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who became a Pastoral Assistant to the Team. Under her guidance a small group of parishioners established a Visitation Committee to make regular calls upon elderly shut-ins in the parish. In the Fall of 1980 and again in 1981 Father Quinn and Father Clifford celebrated a special Mass and Anointing of the Sick for elderly parishioners.
In 1980 St. Monica’s honored its most famous parishioner, former Speaker of the House of Representatives John M. McCormack. The late speaker was buried from St. Monica’s Church in a Mass attended by dignitaries such as the Vice-President elect of the United States, George Bush. The Mass was televised locally and to various other parts of the country.
St. Monica's Parish has a rich tradition of reaching out to those in need. We will always maintain this tradition, even in the midst of adversity!