By Br. Bob Metell, SDB
(East Boston, MA – November 30) – The Salesians arrived in East Boston shortly after World War II to minister to the Italian immigrants who had settled in East Boston, and Boston’s North End on the opposite side of Boston Inner Harbor.
In the Oratory spirit and the model of the Valdocco Oratory, the first Salesians opened an oratory for the local East Boston youth. At the time, East Boston was the port of entry for European immigrants like Ellis Island in New York City. The East Boston neighborhoods comprised primarily Italian, Irish, Polish, and Jewish immigrants. It was not long before they opened a trade school, which moved to downtown Boston and was named Don Bosco Technical High School. The East Boston oratory became St. Dominic Savio High School. The oratory moved to Paris Street in the Maverick Square section of East Boston and became a chartered member of the Boys Clubs of America. In the early 1970s, the name was changed to Boys and Girls Clubs of America when it began to serve girls.
Today the only Boston Salesian work remaining is at the Boys and Girls Club located on Byron Street across from where it all began. We serve over 100 youngsters from East Boston and the surrounding communities of Winthrop, Revere, Lynn, Chelsea, and the Boston North End daily. The club offers after-school daycare, a summer camp program, homework help/tutoring, daily snacks, and an evening meal. On Wednesday, Fr. Bill Bucciferro leads the youngsters in the weekly faith time. Before the evening meal, the SDB community and staff give the daily Good Night. The club recently introduced a Boys and Girls Club Torch Club leadership development program. The East Boston neighborhood, like the majority of Boston neighborhoods, is in constant transition with the changing social and ethnic dynamics of the city of Boston and the greater metro area. As the neighborhood has changed, the club and Salesian community have also changed in order to meet the needs of the East Boston neighborhoods.