January 4, 2012, WORCESTER, MA – The Office of the Chancellor announced today that Our Lady of Fatima Church at 43 Belmont Street, Worcester, has been sold to the Chinese Gospel Church of Massachusetts for $675,000. The sale involves the Church and parking area. The official closing was December 30, 2011. The last Mass was said in the Church in June 2008 at which time the parish was merged with St. Bernard Parish on Lincoln Street to become Our Lady of Providence Parish at St. Bernard Church.
All of the net proceeds from the sale go to Our Lady of Providence Parish, Worcester. The Diocese has consistently followed the canonical principle that money from property sales remains with the parish with which the former parish had been merged. No portion of the net proceeds are retained by the Diocese of Worcester.
Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, chancellor for the Diocese of Worcester, contracted the sale with representatives of the Chinese Gospel Church , a non-denominational Christian community that is currently worshipping at 21 Belmont Street.
In commenting on the process, Msgr. Sullivan said, “Our goal was to assure that Our Lady of Fatima would be of use to a worship community. I am grateful to the representatives of the Chinese Gospel Church for being able to conclude this sales agreement with the Diocese of Worcester with mutually beneficial results.”
The church was originally built by a Lutheran parish and was in use until three Lutheran churches merged to establish Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester in the late 1940s. It was purchased by then Bishop John Wright to establish Our Lady of Fatima parish in January 1952.
The Catholic Church has canonical norms regulating the alienation (sale) of churches and other parochial properties. Particular norms, or local laws, are established by virtue of the population size of a diocese, which regulate the approval process for transactions over a certain dollar amount. Since the transaction was significant, votes had to be taken on the transaction by the Diocesan Board of Consultors and the Diocesan Finance Committee after the initial agreements were negotiated between The Chinese Gospel Church and the Diocese of Worcester. Both diocesan groups supported the sale.
As with other churches which have been sold to non-Catholic groups, all consecrated items, including the altar, statuary, baptismal font, and tabernacle, have been removed. These items will be used by Our Lady of Providence Parish.
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, commented, “I am grateful that this Christian community of faith can utilize this property so that the church which served the Catholic community since the 1950s and originally the Lutheran faithful can now be of service as a place of worship, of education and of community service.”
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