Becket Hall, the diocesan residential program for priesthood discernment, has a new home.
Effective July 10, the facility relocated to the former rectory at Church of the Most Precious Blood, 219 Stenson St. in northwest Rochester. It had been housed the previous 22 years on the campus of St. Boniface Church, 314 Gregory St., on the city’s southeast side.
According to Carol Dady, diocesan coordinator of priesthood vocation awareness, the move was fueled by issues surrounding building space and structural upkeep. She explained that the Gregory Street location — erected in 1900 as a School Sisters of Notre Dame convent — had become too costly to maintain based on a dwindling amount of occupants in recent years. Dady said that Most Precious Blood is more modern and compact, meshing with Becket’s present needs.
The new Becket Hall serves as the residence for Father Michael Conboy, Becket Hall’s rector, and Father Brian Cool, Catholic chaplain at the University of Rochester. Dady added that two young men who are discerning the priesthood were scheduled to move into Becket by the end of August.
Also as part of the move, Dady has relocated to the Pastoral Center, 1150 Buffalo Road, Gates, after having worked out of the Gregory Street facility since she began her position in 2004. Dady sees the move to diocesan headquarters as a plus, saying she will have more daily contact with offices involved in encouraging vocations such as youth ministry, young-adult and campus ministry, and faith formation.
Becket Hall was founded in 1965, with Bishop Joseph L. Hogan — then Msgr. Hogan — serving as its first rector. In 1967 a brand-new building opened on the campus of St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, and the program remained there until 1980 when the diocese sold the facility to the college. The move to Gregory Street took place in 1984. Dady said that St. Boniface Parish is currently pursuing a tenant for the recently vacated building.
Becket’s program, designed for young men at least 20 years of age, offers community living during the early stages of priestly formation. A typical stay at Becket lasts two years; residents also may be enrolled in college courses and/or employed during that time.
Dady said that as the Gregory Street facility was being cleaned out earlier this summer, she came across a number of notes written by former residents describing their Becket Hall experiences. She observed that some went on to the diocesan priesthood and others to religious orders, whereas others got married and/or entered professional careers. Whatever direction they took, Dady said they were apparently enriched by their time at Becket.
“A lot of people tried it,” Dady said, noting that many young diocesan men are currently in discernment for the priesthood but have not yet formalized it by moving into Becket. Her current challenge, she said, is “how to get people to take that initial step, to try it.”