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Blessing of The Oratory

On Friday, November 4, the entire school community gathered to bless the Oratory, St. Sebastian’s new outdoor worship site located adjacent to The Burke Family Center. Designed by our architect, Rob Olson P’15,’18, the Oratory features a gorgeous statue of our Holy Mary holding the Christ child, sculpted from marble in Italy by Steve Shaheen, and a beautiful wall built by Jim Schmidlein and the other gifted, hardworking artists of Architectural Paving & Stone of Weymouth. Placed in the wall is a stone brought back from a pilgrimage to Lourdes by science teacher John Ryan and five Arrows this past summer.

This beautiful space was made possible by funds raised from the 2021 Christmas Auction. Thanks in large measure to the leadership of then Guild President, Julie Mulvey P’17,’21,’26, and Auction co-chairs, Grace White P’18,’22 and Susan Weiss P’23, the necessary funds were raised in a matter of moments during “Raise the Paddle” and we are beyond grateful to the many parents, alumni, trustees, and friends, who have given so generously to this thrilling project.

After Fr. John Arens officially blessed the Oratory, Headmaster Burke delivered moving remarks, sharing that the idea of an outdoor worship site on our campus had long been in his head and in his heart. “A place open to the heavens 24/7. No need to unlock the Church or the Chapel. This Oratory, this holy site, is now and ever shall be accessible to all. Individuals and groups can come here to pray, to meditate, to worship. Before and after tests and performances and games. You name it. Any time is a great time, the right time to pray, to pray without ceasing. And what a place to pray, on this hill above the waters of the Charles River!”

Joining in the blessing were Jim and Peggy McDonough, loving parents of their only child, James P. McDonough ’05, who tragically died in an accident in 2011. The McDonoughs have long shared the dream of this worship site with a memorial to their son and have given generously of their prayers and of their resources to support this project. The plaque, integrated into the stone wall, reads: “In loving Memory of James P. McDonough, Class of 2005, A True Arrow of Passion and Grace.”

In this community of spiritual depth, the Oratory is the perfect new addition to our campus – a sacred space open to every member of our St. Sebastian’s family.