Friday, May 24, 2013
PORTLAND – St. Patrick's Church on outer Congress Street will likely be sold to the owner of the adjacent shopping center for $1.35 million, parish officials said Tuesday.
The sale would prompt parish officials to reverse a plan to sell St. Pius X Church, part of a "cluster" that also includes St. Joseph Church.
The sale would help the three-church cluster erase a deficit that grew to about $85,000 for the year that ended June 30, said the Rev. James Lafontaine, the Our Lady of Hope parish priest, and allow for repairs to other buildings.
The sale of St. Patrick actually dates back five years, when the owner of the Westgate Shopping Center, Charter Realty Co., offered $1.5 million for the property.
The company wanted to buy the church as part of a plan to renovate the shopping center and build a restaurant in a section of the parking lot that was commonly used by parishioners.
Parish officials turned down the offer in December 2007, in response to overwhelming opposition from parishioners.
Calls to Charter Realty were not returned Tuesday.
Earlier this year, a parish committee decided to close St. Pius X to help avert further deficits. But approval by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland was likely to be held up because the bishop, Richard Malone, was named the bishop for Buffalo, N.Y.
A new bishop for the Portland diocese has not yet been named.
Parish officials were preparing to expand the parking area at St. Patrick's to accommodate more parishioners after St. Pius X closed. When they talked to the shopping center's owner about an easement related to the parking expansion, the company offered to buy the church for $1.35 million.
Lafontaine said the approval for negotiations that followed the offer five years ago was still in effect. The parish's pastoral council and finance committee have approved reopening negotiations for the sale.
Lafontaine said a parish meeting on the plans will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Pius X Church, but no further approvals are needed to go ahead with negotiations.
Lafontaine said the sale process is likely to take months.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: