According to a recent Dorchester Reporter article, St. Christopher’s Church on Columbia Point is expected to be demolished and replaced by new dorms for the University of Massachusetts Boston as part of UMass Boston’s residence hall construction project. The University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA), according to the article and a faculty member at UMass Boston who wishes to remain anonymous, forwarded the request to the Archdiocese of Boston for the dorms back in 2015. The dorms will house nearly 1,040 freshmen but can house up to 2,000 students.
What will happen to St. Christopher’s Church? According to the Reporter’s article, church officials have said that “there is no plan to close St. Christopher’s Parish.” Father Paul Soper, secretary for the archdiocese and director of planning, told the Reporter, “There are no firm plans in place, but the archdiocese is discussing the possibilities of partnering with other entities to build student housing for students at UMass Boston—building it on the property of St. Christopher, but with church remaining there.”
According to Fr. Soper, UMass Boston officials have suggested to members of the archdiocese that UMass Boston is trying to make more space for dorms but has limited resources to execute their plan to house as many students as possible.
Over the past few years, UMass Boston has been in partnership with the archdiocese for Project Reach, the university’s talent search program. Project REACH is its “college and career readiness” program as stated on the website. This past summer, the partnership between UMass Boston, the archdiocese, and Project REACH has been highlighted four times in a span of two months (July and August), a time when talks of the residence hall construction project were at a height.
However, according to a UMass Boston faculty member, officials have stated that these plans have not yet been officialized by the university or UMBA and that “most of it is just speculation.”
But, according to Fr. Soper, the archdiocese, and the director of planning, it is too early to make any final decisions regarding how these new expected dorms will be positioned on St. Christopher’s property, as referenced in the Reporter article.
UMass Boston’s Office of Communications also reported in January of 2017 that because parking spaces were “filling up to capacity,” students should park by the Boston Globe’s office (which has been relocated to downtown Boston) or near Mt. Vernon Street by St. Christopher’s Church.
Recently, church officials have stated that this expected project is still in a “preliminary stage.”
According to the Reporter, preliminary sketches have been drawn of what the archdiocese would like to keep still in its current location on Mt. Vernon Street. The archdiocese’s property is 144,649 square feet and is valued for nearly $3 million.
Fr. Soper told the Reporter earlier this week that “The Cardinal wants to see St. Christopher’s even more deeply involved with campus ministry of UMass Boston and he feels it’s distinctive enough to keep them on their own as a parish.”
Neither the UMBA or UMass Boston has stated what an alliance for these dorms with the archdiocese will look like.