Letter to Editor: Blessed Sacrament Property Needs Affordable Housing and Community Space

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I am writing as a community leader about the recent news that Hyde Square Task Force is planning to sell Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions.

When I moved in 1972 from Mission Hill to Forbes Street in Jamaica Plain, the Blessed Sacrament Church became my place of worship, until 2002, when the doors were closed by the Archdiocese of Boston.

In 1980 I started as a community organizer to create community and engage residents, including the Latino community. We got help from Sister Virginia Mulhern and Father Donahue at Blessed Sacrament, plus Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC.) We worked together to lobby and advocate for justice and affordable housing. Blessed Sacrament Church was a center of our work for social justice. This work helped to create affordable homes for families, including developing limited-equity affordable cooperatives in Hyde Square and other parts of Jamaica Plain.

When the church was closed, many of us got together and asked JPNDC to support our call for keeping the church as a benefit to the neighborhood. We joined forces with parishioners, merchants, and the rest of the community, including youth and leaders of Hyde Square Task Force, to plan the future for the entire complex. It took many hours of work by hundreds of community residents and the outcome was a feasible plan to save the church and the other buildings on the campus, including the creation of an affordable housing building on the campus that I am proud to have named after me.

Now I have learned that the Hyde Square Task Force board has voted, with no community input, to sell the former Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions about affordability or community space. They didn’t have the decency to contact community members who were involved in the organizing and planning to save the Church, or to seek our help. Instead, they are hosting a virtual meeting (August 6) to “inform the community” about their plans. This action is not respectful to the many residents who organized to keep the Church in the hands of community.

I am very proud to offer my help to residents who want to learn more about the power of people to change our community for the better. This includes board members and staff of the Hyde Square Task Force. I hope they will admit that they made a mistake and work with the community to make sure the Church is not sold without restrictions for luxury condos or something else that doesn’t serve our neighborhood. The Church is not just a piece of real estate, it is the hopes and dreams of our community.