You perhaps have passed by the recently opened office of the South Boston-Seaport Catholic Collaborative, located at 307 West Broadway near the intersection with D Street. The Catholic Collaborative is a new concept – less than a year old – to handle the Catholic Church’s mission of ministry and governance. This article reports on an interview about the Catholic Collaborative with its new pastor, Fr. Steve Madden.
Fr. Steve, as he prefers to be called, is local. He was born in Somerville; the Madden family lived in St. Joseph Parish close to the town line with Cambridge. He’s the second oldest of five sons: Dan, Fr. Steve, Paul, Michael and Sean. His mother, now deceased, was named Catherine, and his father Daniel is retired after a lifelong career with the MBTA.
Fr. Steve attended St. Clement High School, and went on to obtain his degree in psychology and philosophy at Suffolk University. After graduating, he taught eighth grade at St. Joseph Catholic School for eight years. Pursuing his priestly vocation, he then studied at St. John’s Seminary. Upon completing his degree requirements in theology, he was ordained in June 1988 in the Cathedral by Cardinal Law.
His priestly assignments have all been focused on ministering to individual parishes: five years at St. Ann in Dorchester, seven years at St. Mary in Foxborough, and three years at St. Joseph in Needham. He was appointed the Pastor of St. Peter Parish in Watertown, and then returned to Foxborough for seven more years as the Pastor of St. Mary Parish, rounding out 28 years as a priest this year.
In June of last year, the South Boston-Seaport Catholic Collaborative was formed by the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Steve was appointed as its first pastor, and now lives in the St. Peter Rectory. He explains the collaborative’s makeup as “four places of worship,” comprised of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Peter, St. Monica/St. Augustin, and Our Lady of Good Voyage, the Seaport Chapel.
This group of four churches is administered from a South Boston storefront office at 307 West Broadway, which is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to Fr. Steve, its personnel include Fr. Gerald Souza, Deacon Paul Kline, Pastoral Associate Javier Soegaard, Business Manager Susan McLeod, and Diane Horne. If you are interested in more details about the Catholic Collaborative here in South Boston, stop in at 307 West Broadway anytime during working hours and inquire inside. You’ll see, for example, that a full spectrum of Lenten services is being offered at the various locations, as well as a number of Sunday and daily Masses. Or you can call any one of the four churches. All of the individual church phones now ring into the office at 307 West Broadway.
Fr. Steve is straightforward about the reason for forming the Catholic Collaborative: “It’s due to the shortage of priests,” he says. He points out that this affects rural as well as urban locations, Medfield, for example.
“It’s not just in the cities,” he said. But he adds, “We are experiencing this as we go.” The collaborative has it complexities, too: In addition to four locations in South Boston, there are two food pantries (St. Monica/St. Augustine and St. Vincent de Paul), a million-dollar ceiling repair job (also at St. Vincent), and a new chapel coming along, which will replace the existing Seaport Chapel by Easter of 2017.
Fr. Steve is a jovial person. He’s optimistic about the collaborative concept, although he thinks it’s going to take some time to work it out completely. “We know it’s new to everyone,” he admits. He believes that the South Boston-Seaport Catholic Collaborative will become a model for other collaboratives that’ll be set up elsewhere.
But Fr. Steve misses certain close-knit parish amenities, such as the time a priest used to spend talking with parishioners after Mass was over. Nowadays, priests must rush off to the next Mass in the next church across town.
But Godspeed, Fr. Steve, and welcome to South Boston.