Timeline of a Community Struggle
May 25, 2004
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) announces its intention to close Our Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton’s Oak Square as part of its broader plan to close more than eighty churches and schools.
May – June 2004
Parents of Presentation School children and community residents mobilize to oppose the school closing. They organize three protests against the RCAB’s decision and begin a letter writing campaign.
June 7, 2004
Facing community opposition, the RCAB grants Our Lady of the Presentation School a one-year extension. The Archdiocese announces that the school will close permanently in June 2005.
The Presentation School Foundation is formed with the hope of continuing the civic and educational role of the Presentation School. The foundation unites Presentation parents, community activists, government officials, business owners, and leaders of non-profit institutions. The foundation relies exclusively on the efforts of volunteers.
July 2004 – November 2004
Foundation members organize a series of community meetings bringing together diverse groups and organizations to discuss their hopes for the future of the Presentation School building. These meetings play a vital role in defining the pressing needs of the Allston-Brighton community and in shaping an ambitious plan to safeguard the Presentation School building as a community anchor.
The Presentation School Foundation presents an ambitious 150-page plan to the RCAB regarding the future of the Presentation School building. The foundation seeks to purchase the building at market value, $2.5 million, in order to establish a full-service community center at the site. The community center would include an affordable pre-school, a grammar school, YMCA after-school and summer programs, and adult education services. These uses would serve the needs of working parents, children, immigrants and the poor in Allston-Brighton.
Twenty-five community groups and organizations endorse this plan, including the YMCA, WGBH, Boston University and the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation. Mayor Menino and the entire Boston City Council also support the proposal.
January 11, 2005
In a five-sentence letter, Bishop Richard Lennon rejects the foundation’s proposal, indicating that the RCAB will retain ownership of the building for unstated “Archdiocesan needs.”
January – February 2005
The Presentation School Foundation mobilizes renewed community opposition to the Archdiocese’s actions, organizing three demonstrations and a second letter-writing campaign. The foundation’s proposal and its struggle receive editorial endorsements from The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and the Allston-Brighton Tab.
January 18, 2005
The RCAB announces that it will relocate the Metropolitan Tribunal, its ecclesiastical court, to the Presentation School building. The tribunal’s major function is the granting of marriage annulments.
March 1, 2005
Representatives of the Presentation School Foundation meet with Bishop Richard Lennon. The meeting fails to resolve the conflict between the Allston-Brighton community and the Archdiocese.
March 15, 2005
In a letter to Archbishop Sean O’Malley, the Presentation School Foundation announces that it continues to seek an agreement with the RCAB that would serve the interests of the Allston-Brighton community, the city of Boston and the Archdiocese. The foundation, however, states that it is ready for a “protracted conflict” over the future of the Presentation School building. Between January and March, the foundation writes four letters to Archbishop O’Malley in an effort to resolve the conflict; none are answered.
Through its own research, the foundation discovers that the Metropolitan Tribunal investigates priests accused of sexual abuse. This disclosure produces further community opposition to the Archdiocese’s plan to relocate the tribunal to the Presentation School building.
The Presentation School Foundation announces that it will conduct a week of protests following the closing of the school on June 10. The protests, Enacting the Vision, will highlight the foundation’s proposed uses of the building.
June 8, 2005
The Archdiocese abruptly cancels the final two days of classes at Our Lady of the Presentation School, locking children out of their own school. The RCAB cites concerns that potential occupation of the school by parents would threaten the safety of teachers and students. The lockout cancels classes and graduation ceremonies for children.
Upon hearing the news, angry parents and residents, along with tearful children, spontaneously gather at the school protesting the lockout.
June 9, 2005
The Presentation School Foundation organizes a graduation ceremony for kindergartners in a public park, the Oak Square Common, across from Our Lady of the Presentation School. The Archdiocese’s lockout draws intense criticism from Presentation parents, Allston-Brighton residents, government officials, and the news media.
June 10, 2005
Mayor Menino organizes a graduation ceremony for Presentation students at historic Faneuil Hall.
The Presentation School Foundation begins its planned weeklong protest in Oak Square Common. As part of the protest, a campout begins in the common.
June 11, 2005
The Archdiocese and the Presentation School Foundation announce that they will hold a meeting on June 13 in an effort to resolve the escalating controversy over the future of the Presentation School building.
June 12, 2005
As the protest activity continues in Oak Square Common, the conflict between the Archdiocese and the Allston-Brighton community draws considerable local, national and international news coverage, including stories in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, and The Guardian (London).
June 13, 2005
Following a more than three hour meeting between Archbishop Sean O’Malley and representatives of the Presentation School Foundation, the Archdiocese and the foundation announce that the RCAB will make a “good faith effort to pursue the goal of a negotiated sale of the Our Lady of the Presentation School property to the Presentation School Foundation.” This joint announcement reverses the Archdiocese’s longstanding position on the future of the Presentation School building.
June 27, 2005
Following a second meeting between representatives of the Presentation School Foundation and Archbishop O’Malley, both parties agree that they “will endeavor to achieve mutually agreeable terms and conditions for the sale of the Presentation School property to the PSF.”
The agreement specifies that the foundation will advance a formal offer to the Archdiocese by September 1.
August 22, 2005
A group of former parishioners of Our Lady of the Presentation Church file a lawsuit against the Archdiocese claiming that they own all the church and school property of the parish. The Presentation School Foundation is not a party to the suit.
September 1, 2005
In accordance with the agreed upon timetable, the Presentation School Foundation presents to the Archdiocese of Boston a formal offer to purchase the school property for the fair market price of $2 million. The foundation’s offer defines multiple uses of the school, including an affordable pre-school, YMCA after-school and summer programs, adult education services, and teacher development and student enrichment programs.
September 6, 2005
After receiving the PSF offer, Archdiocesan Chancellor David Smith informs PSF in writing that the Archdiocese will not negotiate due to litigation filed in August by former OLP parishioners, who challenge the Archdiocese’s ownership of the OLP properties. PSF is not a party to the litigation.
October 11, 2005
Following PSF’s requests to continue negotiations, Chancellor Smith informs PSF in writing that Archbishop O’Malley asked him to meet with PSF representatives to discuss steps to move forward toward a Purchase Agreement.
November 7, 2005
Chancellor Smith meets with PSF representatives to discuss the PSF offer and defines the necessary terms for the negotiations to move forward: specifically, that PSF’s proposed use of the building cannot include an elementary school and that the Archbishop must have sole discretion whether an elementary school would ever be allowed to operate on the property. Chancellor Smith also outlined ways in which the parties could potentially move forward with an agreement in spite of the litigation.
January 19, 2006
PSF representatives and Chancellor Smith meet again and agree – in spite of the litigation — to move toward a Purchase and Sale Agreement based on the time frame and terms outlined by the Archdiocese. Both sides agree that PSF will submit a revised offer.
February 21, 2006
PSF submits a revised offer to the Archdiocese that meets the time frame and terms outlined by the Archdiocese, including the heart-wrenching decision to concede on the elementary school.
February 28, 2006
Chancellor Smith reverses his position and informs PSF in writing that the Archdiocese will not sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement until the litigation by OLP parishioners is completely resolved. The Chancellor also introduces additional concerns, including the purchase price.
March 15, 2006
The Presentation School Foundation organizes another protest rally in Oak Square Common, highlighting the reversal of the Archdiocese’s negotiating position. The RCAB claims that its goal of selling the school property to the PSF has been “frustrated by the litigation.”
Former parishioners of the now closed Our Lady of the Presentation parish agree to withdraw their litigation concerning the Presentation School property if the RCAB sells the property to the PSF.
The RCAB claims that it will “accelerate” the process leading to the sale of the Presentation School property to the PSF given the action of the litigants.
Negotiations between the PSF and RCAB resume.
October 19, 2006
Mayor Thomas Menino and Cardinal Sean O’Malley join representatives of PSF inBrighton’s Oak Square to announce an agreement concerning the sale of the former Our Lady of the Presentation School building to the foundation.
As an indication of its support for the foundation’s vision for building’s future as a multi-service community center, the RCAB reduces the purchase price for the building to $1 million (PSF had offered $2 million to acquire the building). The agreement grants the foundation a full-year to raise the necessary funds to acquire the building. The agreement bars PSF from opening an elementary school in the building.
October 12, 2007
Mayor Thomas Menino and Cardinal Sean O’Malley join representatives of PSF in
announcing that the foundation has acquired the former Presentation School building for use as a community center. The New Balance Foundation provides a lead gift of $350,000, making the acquisition possible.
Boston Community Capital, a social lender, provides $1.26 million in acquisition
2008 to 2010
PSF’s fundraising campaign for the renovation of the former Presentation School building is slowed by the most significant recession in American history since the Great Depression.
March 12, 2008
PSF announces an agreement with Little Sprouts to provide affordable daycare and preschool services in the future PSF Community Center. The Urban Early Education
Initiative will serve 120 middle-and low-income Boston children. This initiative represents a partnership between PSF, Little Sprouts, WGBH and Wheelock College.
February 24, 2009
PSF announces an agreement with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to provide community health services in the future PSF Community Center. Key components of the center’s health programming will be the Women, Infants and Children’s program (WIC) and preventative health programs for children and families.
May – June 2010
PSF closes a $750,000 fundraising gap, setting the stage for renovations to begin on the former Presentation School building. The City of Boston ($400,000), the New Balance Foundation ($200,000), St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center ($50,000), Boston College ($50,000) and Allston-Brighton residents ($40,000) make significant contributions to PSF’s fundraising drive.
PSF secures $1 million in historic tax credits from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to help fund the transformation of the former Presentation School building into a multi- service community center.
February 24, 2011
PSF celebrates the groundbreaking for the transformation of the former Presentation School building into a multi-service community center. Mayor Thomas Menino, Secretary of State William Galvin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley join community residents at this event.
Eastern Bank, Mass Development and the Property and Casualty Initiative provide renovation financing for the project.
November 15, 2011
Little Sprouts daycare and preschool opens in the partially renovated PSF Community Center, returning children to the building for the first time since its abrupt closing in June 2005.