Century Bancorp could claim that divine inspiration contributed to its latest board recruitment.

The Boston community bank has added James McDonough, a former chancellor and chief financial officer of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, to its board. McDonough, who is also a veteran community banker, spent the past six years helping the nation's fourth-largest archdiocese stabilize its budget and create financial transparency.

"He did a good job cleaning up their budget," says Marshall Sloan, Century's chairman. "He was a godsend to them."

Since 2006, the archdiocese's Central Ministries budget has been stabilized after a 13% cut in expenses and the launch of several new financial programs. Central Ministries returned to the black in its 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30, bringing in $5.1 million after a $9.9 million net loss a year earlier. McDonough stepped down from his post in late February; he joined Century's board on May 8.

His selection may have more to do with his former banking days than any religious post. Sloan, who founded Century, met McDonough more than 20 years ago while McDonough was the president and chief executive of Abington Bancorp. McDonough grew the bank through numerous acquisitions from 1992 to 2004, when it sold to Seacoast Financial Services in New Bedford, Mass.

"I use to bump into him a lot," Sloan says. A more recent "bump" at a social event landed McDonough a seat at Century's board with some of the biggest business and educational names in Boston.

"We're trying to pick people with brain power and experience," Sloan says. "We always try to get members on the board who can contribute something."

Century has a wide-ranging 14-member board of business owners, university presidents and bankers. McDonough is replacing Roger Berkowitz, who resigned in December to join the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's board. Berkowitz, who is the president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, served on Century's board for 22 years.

Sloan says the directors serve one-year terms to ensure they "do a good job" when up for re-election. But most of them stay far longer. "Our members usually go on until they retire or die," adds Sloan, who is 86. "The only reason they didn't kick me out is because we didn't set an age limit."

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