Saint Catherine Church | A Brief History
Following World War II, a growing number of Greek Orthodox people began to populate the southern and western suburbs of Boston, which, at the time, were being serviced by the clergy of Boston. By the late 1950s, however, it was apparent that a new church was needed at the gateway to the South Shore to serve the spiritual, educational, cultural, and social needs of the growing needs of the faithful living in the cities and towns that constitute the “South Shore.” Thus, in 1958 a group of dedicated families devoted to the Church and to their ancestral heritage organized the “South Shore Hellenic Association” to pursue the establishment of a Greek Orthodox Parish under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
While petitioning the Archdiocese for a Charter, the Association sought to purchase property for a church. Finally, in the latter part of 1960 after a period of search, negotiations, and fund raising, the Association purchased the United First Parish Church of Quincy located on Beale and Farrington Streets and renovated and converted it into an Orthodox church with all the essential liturgical appointments. In due course, the new Church was dedicated to and named after the Great Martyr Catherine, the saintly and wise maiden of Alexandria. The newly established Parish of St. Catherine began functioning on October 23, 1960 with the appointment of an interim priest and a permanent pastor one year later. After two decades of existence, it became evident that the Parish was outgrowing the Beale Street property with its limited possibilities for expansion. Thus, in 1982 the Parish made a bold move and purchased the former six-acre site of the old Pappas Farm and Picnic Grounds just off the main highways in Braintree, MA. The plans for the future church and community center at the Braintree site, however, evolved slowly due to several factors.
The fullness of time for the new church and center came at the turn of the century. In 2000, the Parish established a Building Committee to develop plans for the Braintree site. In 2001 an architect was engaged to design and oversee the construction of the new Center and Church. On October 9, 2004 with great joy the Parish made the transition from Quincy to Braintree. For three plus years (2004-2008) the faithful worshiped in the Grand Hall of the newly built Community Center, the Hall being converted into an interim sanctuary. Thus a new chapter was opened in the life of the Parish.
In the summer of 2007 the Parish embarked on Phase II of its building program. After careful planning and new fund-raising activities construction on the new Church began in earnest. Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers and the generous offerings of many contributors—beginning with the magnanimous gifts of the Grand Patrons and Sponsors of the new Church, George and Caterina Sakellaris—Phase I and II of the building program of the Parish have been brought to a successful conclusion.
On March 29 & 30, 2008 with His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios presiding the Parish celebrated The Thyranoixia (The Door Opening Ceremonies) of the new Church and laid claim to the new magnificent edifice as its permanent house of worship, on the cornerstone of which are inscribed the words: “My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all Peoples” (Is. 56: 7).
The new complex of buildings – with its distinctive brick facade, handsome Community Center, and beautiful imposing Byzantine style Church – sits in lovely rustic surroundings with ample parking. The new Church is a unique addition to the architectural landscape of Braintree, a splendid landmark at the gateway to the South Shore, and a beautiful contribution to the presence of Orthodox in New England. While much work remains to be done, including the decoration of the Church and the further beautification of the site, in Braintree the Parish of St. Catherine has found not only a brand-new home but also a renewed sense of purpose and mission.
The new Church serves to remind us of that mission. Through its architectural style, organizational principles, and decorative program, it expresses tangibly (as all traditional Orthodox temples do) the movement of the Incarnation – the movement of God’s descent into the world, the movement of the bowed heavens – by which the advancement of all creation towards its ultimate restoration was begun. As an epiphany of the transfigured world, the church edifice itself has a sacramental character. It is a window unto another reality, a glimpse of the Last Day when the created world “will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21) to share in the benefits wrought by the saving work of Jesus Christ.