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Many students and teachers from the School of Theology and Ministry, including Bao Nguyen, SJ, left, and Adrian Danker, SJ, are part of the Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

New Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community Opens on Foster Street

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By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff
Published: Sept. 23, 2010
The Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community, a space dedicated to the formation of Jesuit priests, recently opened on Foster Street.

The five buildings that make up the grounds are now home to an international group of 75 Jesuits, whose main apostolate is theological reflection, scholarship and research. Formerly the Weston Jesuit Community, the group includes many students and teachers from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Construction of the new community was a partnership between BC and the USA Assistancy of the Society of Jesus; while Boston College owns the physical land and financed the construction project, the Assistancy holds a mortgage on the buildings.

Last month, the Jesuits — some of them having lived in Harvard Square for 40 years ‑ moved into their new residence.

Beyond a centralized living space, the Faber Community boasts a community library, conference area, administrative space and a chapel that can accommodate a Mass for all residents. The property also has four houses of living space, each equipped with a small chapel, kitchen, living room, dining space and small recreation room.

Rev. Richard Roos, SJ, minister of the Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community, said the new community — built in less than a year and under budget — allows for relationships to develop more organically among the Jesuits. Prior to the move, the community was scattered throughout Harvard Square, he said, making it difficult to make connections.

Now, residents — some from Africa, South America, Spain and Portugal — mingle on stone patios and around grills, and have the opportunity to congregate on a vast green space that makes up a central courtyard of the Faber property.

“By living all together here, with a common space in the center, it is much easier for the members to interact with one another. It doesn’t involved getting into a car and driving. We are within seconds of each other,” said Fr. Roos.

“The proximity to STM is also a big improvement. Our members no longer have to commute across T lines from Harvard to Lake Street to take classes or simply get a book from the library.”

Both ordained and pre-ordained members also hold pastoral ministries and work at various parishes, community centers, hospitals and prisons in the area. Remaining close to where they study and teach is invaluable in making the most of the hours in a day, Fr. Roos said.

“Some people wonder why the community is named for Peter Faber. The reason is, the mission and ministry of this community is the formation of Jesuit priests.

“At the time of the founding of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier and four others – there were seven companions – all of them were laymen except Peter Faber. Peter Faber was the first Jesuit priest,” said Fr. Roos.

“One of the prime ministries of the Weston Department of the School of Theology and Ministry is to offer advanced theology degrees to Jesuits from other countries, particularly developing countries, so they can go back to their countries and become teachers in their home countries,” said Fr. Roos.  

Fr. Roos said the design of the property is a gentle reminder of what brings the very diverse group together. In the middle of the ring of five buildings stands a chapel, a space large enough that all in the community may celebrate Mass together.

“That is quite appropriate,” said Fr. Roos, “because the heart of our community is Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”

To view a video of the new community, visit http://bit.ly/cXtIib