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LYNN —Even though St. Jean Baptiste Parish closed in 1996, its legacy and the mission of the Church endures as families settle into their new homes in the affordable housing development that now stands in its place.
“Building on the heritage of St. Jean Baptiste Parish, this development will continue the Church’s commitment to those in need by providing 38 new affordable homes and a community center for the use of so many local residents,”said Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley at the ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 5. “The development will offer renewed hope and a sense of pride for generations to come,”he said.
The St. Jean’s development provides 38 mixed income housing, including 24 rental units, 14 town houses for first-time homeowners, and a community facility operated by Catholic Charities North. The development led neighboring homeowners to enhance their own properties as well.
“Perhaps most importantly, St. Jean’s development has also led to a remarkable amount of additional investment in nearby properties, which is precisely what we hoped this would inspire,”said Lisa Alberghini, executive director of the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, the housing development office of the archdiocese.
“It’s well beyond housing and even beyond social services, and it’s really about revitalizing an entire community,”she added. “It is also just one example of how former parish property can be used to build upon the strengths of a neighborhood to continue serving communities and to help those in need.”
“This property is an anchor for a series of redevelopment, a series of reinvestment that has happened in this neighborhood,”said Lynn mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. “It’s a great improvement for the neighborhood. It lifts our spirit.”
At nearby St. Mary Parish in Lynn, the Planning Office has headed two other projects —an elderly housing facility and a school extension building. St. Theresa House is a 32-room home for low-income, aging women, and the William F. Connell Center at St. Mary Regional High School features a chapel, classrooms and a technology center.
“This truly is a wonderful success story. It’s really what the Church is all about,”said St. Mary’s pastor, Msgr. Paul Garrity, accepting a stained glass window taken from St. Jean Baptiste Church in appreciation of his role in the project.
The St. Mary’s projects combined with the St. Jean’s development represent more than $20 million of investment from the archdiocese, Alberghini said.
“All of this shows what we can accomplish when we build upon the work of those who establish and sustain these parishes, and when the Church, the commonwealth and the city join forces with our investors,”she said.
The Planning Office has developed over 2,200 units of housing in Massachusetts since the office was established in 1968.
“Our mission is to pursue the work of the archdiocese by creating high quality affordable and mixed-income housing where people can live with dignity and respect in homes they can afford,”she said.