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Molinari Brothers and Sacred Heart Church Receive Good Neighbor Recognition Award

The Good Neighbor Recognition Award for January 2014 was presented to Bennett and Richard Molinari at Sacred Heart Church in North Square. The award was presented by NEWRA Recognition Committee Chair Janet Gilardi on behalf of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA).

The monthly award is voted by NEWRA’s Executive Committee and given to local businesses, organizations and property owners that consistently keep the areas around their property clean of trash and debris.

Photo by Phil Orlandella.

See previous winners of the NEWRA Clean Streets Good Neighbor Recognition Award.

6 Replies to “Molinari Brothers and Sacred Heart Church Receive Good Neighbor Recognition Award

    1. Ben and Richard deserve to receive this award for all they do at Sacred Heart Church. Nice to see they have been recognized.

  1. Ben and Richard Molinari (and Rose Marie London and others) are doing a spectacular job taking care of this historic building, which was first constructed in 1833 as a Seamen’s Bethel administered by Methodist preacher Fr. Edward Thompson Taylor (thought to be a model for Father Mapple in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick). The Transcendentalist philosopher (and onetime North End minister) Ralph Waldo Emerson frequently visited the site, as did English writer Charles Dickens in 1842. An 1865 image of the bethel prior to its purchase in 1884 by the Societa’ San Marco (St. Mark’s Society) and conversion into a Roman Catholic parish church in 1888 is found at: The structure was part of a huge charitable operation to assist seamen and their families (the Mariner’s House, also still standing on North Square, hosted over a thousand wayfarers annually, and a hospital once existed in the same area for seamen who were ill or injured). Structurally speaking, a lot of the building looks the same, except for the Baroque-revival curves of the present-day roofline, and, of course, the distinct furnishings for the Roman Catholic liturgy and cult of the saints on the interior! The parish of Sacred Heart was run for many years, until 2004, by the Scalabrini Fathers, who worked with Italians living outside of Italy. I feel that St. Mark Society members like my grandfather, Jerry Dello Russo, would be very proud of the work the Molinari are doing to keep the building “shipshape” – and given his championship of the urban poor and those who struggle with temptation, I like to believe that Fr. Taylor would be as well (Alcoholics Anonymous continues to meet in the rectory, and temperance was always part of Taylor’s mission). As he himself proclaimed: “I set my Bethel in North Square, because I learned to set my net where the fish ran… the center of America is Boston, and the center of Boston is North Square, and the center of North Square is the Bethel.”
    I know the Molinari are hoping to someday erect a display inside the building to relate all this history, and much more. It would be a fantastic tribute to so many eras of American history.
    Incidentally, a Roman Catholic chapel to St. John the Baptist was on the site of the future St. John’s School by the 1840’s – again, with the connection to water, given its proximity to the wharves.
    I am glad that I was raised in the Sacred Heart parish, received my first sacraments here, and developed a sense of Italian culture through the many traditions the parish still observed, a great resource to me at the time of my graduate work at the Vatican.
    For more about “Fr. Taylor, the Seamen’s Apostle”, consult the website of the United Methodist Church

  2. Two wonderful men! They were great friends of my mother when she worked at Shreve, Crunp and Low in the 1970’s. She always thought the of the world of the Molinari brothers! Congratulations and well deserved!!!!

  3. Thank You Jessica Dello Russo ~~~very interesting information! I also was raised in–with Sacred Heart Parish and we also go back 4 generations (Iennaco) I always love to hear stories about our roots~~~Thanks Again.

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