History of St. Basil's Chapel

St. Basil's Chapel is the second worship site of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, located at 122 Park Ave., Bridgewater, in the heart of the Bridgewater State University campus.

St. Basil’s Chapel was built in 1965 to house the Newman Club that had been active on the campus since it was formally organized in 1936 by Father Joseph Bernard who was a curate at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. The club would serve both the spiritual and the social needs of its student members. In the following decades the population of the school grew and became predominanty Catholic, which led to the expansion of the club as well. By 1957, the Newman Club at Bridgewater State College was the second largest organization of its kind in the United States. In that year the Newman Club was the largest student club on campus with 450 of the almost 700 Catholic students paying membership dues, out of a total student population of 1300. Many of these students would walk a mile and a half on weekday mornings to attend Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, sacrificing breakfast, with those students making up 90% of the daily Mass attendees at that time. These facts were presented to Cardinal Cushing and when a house on Park Ave. was offered for sale in 1960 the Archdiocese of Boston purchased it in behalf of the Newman Club for $15,900. This house was remodeled and used by the club from 1961 to 1964, and then was replaced by the current chapel and Catholic Center.

 

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