In 1960, Richard Cardinal Cushing, the Archbishop of Boston, invited the Society of the Atonement to send some Friars to work to establish the presence of that religious community in the archdiocese to make the name and mission of Jesus a presence in the greater Brockton area. The purpose was to make the universal eternal message of Jesus Christ come alive in a way that addressed practical lives of modern people seeking to know, love, and serve Him.
Very Reverend Bonaventure Koelzer, S.A., the Superior General of the Graymoor Friars at the time, responded that the Society felt "deeply privileged by being admitted into this archdiocese, which has been our desire for many years." Reverend Jerome Gallagher, S.A., a native of Newton, MA, came to search for a location for the Friars to begin their mission , that in the words of Cardinal Cushing, was to " conduct a public Chapel and Information Center in the South Shore area" of the Archdiocese of Boston.
After consulting with the Cardinal, diocesan officials, and other priests from the area, Father Gallagher found a location for the proposed Chapel and Information Center at the new Westgate Shopping Center at the junction of Routes 24 and 27 on the outskirts of Brockton. Cardinal Cushing had created a very ambitious set of tasks for the foundation—and he wanted the Chapel up and running within a year.
On Monday, October 30, 1961, 52 years to the day after the Society of the Atonement corporately entered the Roman Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Boston traveled to Westgate Shopping Center to dedicate and bless the Chapel of Our Savior and Catholic Information Center. He was joined by Very Reverend Bonaventure Koelzer, S.A., the Superior General of the Society of the Atonement, for the occasion, joined by other friars from the Society and local priests. The ceremonies began with Cardinal Cushing laying the cornerstone on the right side of the outside of the chapel. Father Koelzer celebrated the Mass at the dedication and preached about his gratitude to the Cardinal and all who had made in construction of the Chapel and Information Center possible. Cardinal Cushing also preached a sermon and then blessed the structure. Music for the Mass and blessing was furnished by 30 brothers from the choir of Our Lady of the Atonement Novitiate, Cumberland, Rhode Island.
The Chapel’s bright and open design features both classical and modern features such as unobstructed seats. Large windows, designed and built in Florence, Italy, by Marcello Tolleri, allowed significant natural light to filter into the space. The lights were hidden in the beams of the open ceiling and were controlled by dimmer switches in the sacristy. Among the Chapel’s classical features were the beautiful Carrara Marble altars and communion rails, mosaics from Venice Italy, wood carved statues of Our Lady of the Atonement, St, Joseph and St. Anthony.
Once dedicated, blessed, and opened, the Friars sought to use the facilities to promote the teaching of Christ and the work of the Society. The Friars saw the Chapel as a means of assisting the local parishes and of meeting the needs of the faithful, both Catholic and non-Catholic. They made themselves available for counseling. A convenient sacramental schedule was in place that allowed for reception of the sacraments during the workday for many. Adult education classes and inquiry classes were scheduled.
The Friars efforts began to take them beyond the Chapel and Information Center itself and they worked in earnest to promote Christian Unity in the area and throughout the archdiocese. Particularly they worked on the octave of Prayer for Unity, developing ecumenism and promoting dialogue with other churches in the area.
Over time groups used the Chapel as a center for their spiritual development. The Secular Franciscan Order and the Charismatic Prayer Community are prime examples of these movements. Many have come through the doors of the Chapel and had their minds, hearts and eyes opened to see and hear the teachings of Christ explained and applied to their own lives. Through these formats, the Chapel serves a means to encourage spiritual development and personal holiness. In turn, this allows many to be drawn to the Gospel by the witness of faithful disciples. The most consistent aspect of the life of the Chapel has been the sacramental life.
Today, most people are drawn to the daily celebration of the Mass and Confessions in the chapel. Mass is celebrated each day at 12:05 and 5:30 p.m. Confessions are heard daily before Mass. Many come to the Chapel to practice devotions that they hold dear, like the Rosary, the St. Anthony Novena, or visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
The Gift Shop was added to become a vital part of the work of the Chapel. Through it, many can still learn the truths of the faith through the excellent selection of books, pamphlets, Bibles, DVDs and videos available for purchase. People can purchase many images and sacramentals to help them practice their faith with piety and devotion. The shop provides a wide array of inspirational music and artwork to appeal to the many tastes and modes of the people that frequent the Chapel. In the Gift Shop, people also find a sympathetic ear and a word of encouragement as they strive to live out the faith through the struggles and triumphs of daily life.
Since its beginning in 1961, the Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton, MA, has served as an oasis for Catholics and all people of good will who seek to know the joy and goodness of an encounter with Christ. Through Franciscan hospitality and faithful witness to the Gospel visitors can come to share in the life and nourishment that Jesus Christ left through His Church. By promoting that love, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Chapel makes present the appeal of Christ at the Last Supper that we may all know God and be one in Him (John 17:21).