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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BC celebrates 150 years

Published: September 21, 2012
Section: News

Last Saturday Boston College alumni, faculty and students filled Fenway Park in Boston for a Catholic Mass to celebrate the school’s sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. Boston College, one of the countries more well-known Jesuit schools, was founded in 1863 after many years of being denied a formal charter by the then anti-Catholic legislature.
Commenting at the Mass, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley discussed the role of Boston College in the history and growth of Boston and the “Catholic Emancipation” that Boston College was a part of; referring to the strongly anti-Catholic sentiment many Irish immigrants faced when they came to Boston a hundred and fifty years ago.
Among the 20,000 people to attend the Fenway event was U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a graduate of BC as well as Boston College Law School. Regarding the event, Markey noted “It was perfect … All of the Jesuits who built BC are smiling down on this perfect day at Fenway,” according to The Boston Globe. When asked about how the school has changed since he graduated, Markey said, “now the facilities match the quality [education] they’ve always provided.”
Many of the people who attended the event had multi-generational connections to the school. Bernie O’Kane, a 1970 graduate whose great-uncle graduated in 1909 and BC’s director of employee development. Speaking about the growth since his great-uncle graduated, O’Kane remarked that at the 300th anniversary “it’s going to be even better. The place’ll be filled,” The Globe reported. In the years since founding, BC has grown from a class of 22 students to over 14,600.
While Brandeis’ history is far briefer than Boston College’s, with only a little over a half a century rather than a century and a half, there is common ground for the founding.
Brandeis is situated on the former campus of Middlesex University, a school that was known for being one of the few medical schools in the country that did not impose a quota on Jewish students. The founding of Brandeis, and its history, is tied to the fight for religious and ethnic equality, first in the initial founding of a Jewish, non-sectarian university and then in the 1960s civil rights protests. Brandeis, in a little over 60 years of history, has grown from an initial class of 107 students to a current student population of 5,057.