St. Catherine of Sweden Church is Sold
New home for independent Hispanic Christian Community
FEBRUARY 17, 2011, WORCESTER, MA – The Office of the Chancellor announced today that St. Catherine of Sweden Church has been sold to Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El, Inc. for $585,000. The sale involves all the buildings and the parking areas that were associated with the former St. Catherine of Sweden Parish. The sale also included a small triangular property across the street from the church. The official closing was on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. The last Mass was said in the Church on November 22, 2009.
All of the net proceeds from the sale go to Sacred Heart-St. Catherine of Sweden 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 Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El, Inc., a Massachusetts religious, charitable, nonprofit corporation which currently operates at 70 James Street, Suite 220B, Worcester, MA 01603. It began ots operations in December, 2003.
In commenting on the process, Msgr. Sullivan said, “In this challenging economy, our goal was to assure that St. Catherine of Sweden Church be of use to a worship community as soon as was feasible. I am grateful to the representatives of Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El for being able to conclude this sales agreement with the Diocese of Worcester with mutually beneficial results.”
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 Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El and the Diocese of Worcester. Both diocesan groups unanimously 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. Many of these are now being used in other churches including at the merged parish of Sacred Heart-St. Catherine of Sweden. Some items are being kept in storage until an appropriate home is found in another Catholic Church.
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, commented, “I am glad that we have been able to work with the Iglesia Cristiana Bet-El so that the church which served the Catholic community over many years can now be of service to the People of God served by this Christian community as a place of worship, of education and of community service as is part of their mission.”