At the height of the Great Famine in the 1840s, as tens of thousands of Irish immigrants poured into Boston, the Rev. John McElroy embarked on a dream to establish a Jesuit college where sons of Irish immigrants could receive a Catholic education.
McElroy, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in the North End, faced fierce anti-Catholic sentiment. But he persisted, and in 1863 obtained a charter for a new school in the South End. As “pious revenge” for the city’s resistance, he named it Boston College.