History of Our Parish

Humble Beginnings

The parish of St. Mary of the Assumption had its formal beginning in June of 1852 when a congregation of Catholics gathered at the Brookline Lyceum Hall to attend the first public Mass.  The parish was created under the direction of Bishop John B. Fitzpatrick, the third bishop of Boston.  The Lyceum Hall, located on the Boston-Worcester Road (Route 9 - Boylston Street), had formerly served as an inn under the name of the Punch Bowl Tavern.  The number of Catholics in Brookline during that time was very small.  The parish was separated from St. Joseph's Parish in Roxbury and included an area of Boston known as Brighton.

Growing Through Change

While services were being held in the Lyceum Hall for almost a year and a half, the first church building was started on Andem Place, a site once owned by heirs of Reverend John Cotton, the second minister of the First Church of Boston.  On Christmas Day 1853, the first Mass was celebrated in the new church, which was a frame structure that seated approximately seven hundred people.

St. Mary Exterior

In 1873 Reverend Lawrence J. Morris became pastor and almost immediately his major work involved erecting the present church of St. Mary of the Assumption.  Two months after his arrival, he purchased 57,000 square feet of the Homer Estate which fronted on Harvard Street.  However, when an adjoining lot situated at the corner of Harvard Street and Linden Place was offered for sale Fr. Morris realized that this would be a much better site for the church.  Fr. Morris purchased the land and construction began on the church in 1880.  The building was finished in 1886 and was dedicated on Sunday, August 22, by Archbishop Williams. 

St. Mary Aisle and Altar
St. Lawrence Exterior

When St. Lawrence Parish, in the western part of Brookline, was carved out of St. Mary Parish, Fr. Morris erected the attractive wood-stone church on Boylston Street and named it in honor of St. Lawrence, his own patron saint.  It was opened on May 2, 1897 and Reverend Thomas F. McManus was named pastor of the new parish on December 23, 1897.  In the early 2000s, St. Lawrence was slated to be closed in late 2004.  However, it was eventually decided to keep the church open as a second worship site of a large parish.  In June 2005, St. Lawrence Church was reopened as part of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish.  

St. Lawrence Interior
St. Mary School Exterior

In July of 1899, Fr. Morris asked the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to come to St. Mary's to start a grammar school.  The Sisters accepted the invitation and sent five sisters.  There was no convent or school building on the grounds at the time so they began in the basement of a parish building.  Soon Fr. Morris had the convent erected.  Some of the space in the convent was used to house the school until the present building came into use in September of 1907. 

Looking to the Future

St. Mary + St. Lawrence Exteriors

Today the Archdiocese of Boston has issued a call to evangelization and the parish of St. Mary of the Assumption was chosen to be a part of the first phase of Disciples in Mission -- a project that seeks to revitalize the lives of all followers of Jesus Christ to be fully engaged members of parish life.  

"The Pastoral Plan [Disciples in Mission] … seeks to revitalize the Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus." - DISCIPLES IN MISSION:  A Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Boston