by Frank Mazzaglia, St. Joseph Society

How do you say, “Thank you” to people who have stood by you, in good times and bad, for more than 100 years?

That’s the question pondered by the Society of St. Joseph when they became aware that St. Leonard Port Maurice Church was in the midst of a multi-million dollar restoration project. In fact, the St. Joseph Society could think of a million reasons – both spiritual and practical- to support the good Franciscans who administer St. Leonard’s. It was to say “thank you” for the past as well as to preserve the future, that the Society of St. Joseph voted to give $1 million dollars  – the largest gift ever received by the parish – to cover the remaining costs of St. Leonard’s Restoration Project.


The St. Joseph Society reflected on the record.  When the deadly flu pandemic struck the North End in 1918 leaving hundreds of orphans – it was the Franciscans of St. Leonard’s that established the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain to care for them.

When thousands of poor and illiterate Italian immigrants crowded the North End at the turn of the 20th century, it was the Franciscans of St. Leonard’s that established St. Anthony’s Elementary School as the first step in insuring a brighter tomorrow for young  Italian Americans.

As the need for education became clearer, it was the Franciscans of St. Leonard’s that established Christopher Columbus High School for boys and Julia Billiart High School for girls.

Beyond all of that, the St. Joseph Society reflected on so many calls in the middle of dark nights when the Friars responded to sick calls. They also remembered how many times the Friars administered the sacraments from baptism to the Sacrament of the Sick.

So it was decided. In the name of the countless thousands of people whose lives have been touched by the Friars, the St. Joseph’s Society agreed that their $1 million dollar gift was not only a way to express their gratitude for the past, but an investment to secure the future of the Franciscans of St. Leonard Port Maurice in the North End for the next hundred years.

Donations toward the restoration of St. Leonard Church can be made online here or by sending checks to St. Leonard’s Restoration Fund, 320 Hanover St., Boston MA 02113. All donations are tax deductible and you will receive a receipt within 2 weeks of your donation. For gifts from donor-advised charitable accounts use “St. Leonard of Port Maurice” Tax ID 04-2108397 and designate Church Restoration Fund.

Please join the Franciscan Friars and parishioners on Sunday, December 17 at the 12 noon Mass when Cardinal Sean O’Malley will be present for the Blessing of the church and the consecration of the altar officially reopening Saint Leonard Church. Light refreshments will be served following the Mass and ceremony.


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