Province Announces Closing of Boston Retirement Friary

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

BOSTON — After months of study and the conclusion that the friars no longer need three retirement residences, the Provincial Administration announced last week that St. Anthony Residence at 103 Arch Street will close on June 30, the end of this fiscal year. Friars living at the more than 40-year-old residence will be moved to the Province’s other two retirement houses — in Florida and in northern New Jersey.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, explained the reasons for the closure in a letter sent to HNP friars on March 5, two days after Dominic and Councilor Brian Belanger, OFM, met with the 103 Arch Street community. Both financial and demographic factors led to the decision, they said, describing the history of the Province’s residences, the eldercare studies done by the Province and the comparative expenses of the residences serving senior friars.

Over the past year, the HNP Sick and Retired Directorate, whose liaison to the Council is Brian, had concluded that St. Anthony Residence “posed a number of issues, and a consensus was reached that it should probably be closed.” According to John’s and Dominic’s letter, three factors led to the decision:

1. Need: The number of friars who will be using a retirement residence has “actually hit its peak, according to the projections done provided by a consulting firm. The number will steadily decline over the next two decades. This indicates that we should begin consolidating our resources in this area.”
2. Cost: St. Anthony Residence, due to its relatively small size, is the “least cost-effective of our retirement facilities. It costs almost as much to run as Butler, which houses over twice the number of friars.”
3. Features/Amenities: Though the facility at 103 Arch Street “has a certain location value, it is obsolete in many ways for long-term elder care.” The letter cited several examples including the elevator and stairs.

“We realize that this is a painful decision for the community members of St. Anthony Residence, some of whom have lived there for a number of years,” wrote John and Dominic. “The staff of the other retirement houses will be working over the coming months with the staff in Boston and the friars’ physicians to assure them a smooth transition to other residences.”

When the Province bought the building in 1947, St. Anthony Residence originally housed St. Anthony Shrine and the friar community. After the new shrine opened in 1955, 103 Arch Street housed various offices as well as some friar housing until it became a retirement house in 1971.

“The 65-year-old building has quite a history with us,” Dominic said.

The Province is currently upgrading the facilities of both the St. Petersburg and the Butler retirement residences. A new chapel is being constructed in Florida and in Butler the recreation room is being expanded.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: The photo accompanying this article shows 103 Arch Street when it was St. Anthony Shine. Along with other historical photos of the Boston ministry, this can be viewed on Facebook.