May 18, 2013

Catholic Church selling many Maine properties

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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St. Mary Church in Biddeford is one of the many Catholic Church properties up for sale in Maine.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Notre Dame De Lourdes school in Saco has a for sale sign out front Thursday, May 16, 2013. The building is one of many for sale by the Roman Catholic Diocese.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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See where the Church has properties for sale in Maine.

Twomey said he doesn't see the church getting into more lucrative -- and riskier -- investments as a regular practice.

"We're not out beating the bushes" for deals similar to the shopping center, he said. "But there are commercial brokers out there who know that if the right deal comes around, we might be interested."

Before it bought the shopping center, the Portland diocese checked with other Catholic dioceses around the country and found several that were branching out into commercial real estate. Seeking opportunities for a better return is seen "as an exercise in good and responsible stewardship of the financial gifts of the faithful," Guthro said.

Twomey said the greater emphasis on return might surprise those who figure the church's biggest concern is financial safety, "but people now see this as a wise investment, once it's explained."

Even a stronger return on investments is unlikely to preserve some of the Catholic Church's older buildings, Twomey said, particularly in cities. Many of those churches were built a century or more ago for waves of immigrants, whose descendants have largely moved to the suburbs.

Twomey said he remembers meeting someone at St. Dominic Church on Gray Street in Portland º now the Maine Irish Heritage Center – shortly before it was closed in 2000. He said he was struck by the beauty and history of the building.

"I looked around and thought, 'This is really sad we have to close this church,' " Twomey said.

But as the person in charge of the diocese's books, he understands the reasoning.

"If we had really taken a hard look at it, from a business point of view, those churches would have been closed 30 or 40 years ago," Twomey said. "They're beautiful buildings, but they're big and old and they're expensive to operate."

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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St. Patrick Church in Lewiston is one of many Catholic Church properties up for sale in Maine.

Kelley Bouchard / Staff Writer

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St. Andre Church in Biddeford is one of the many Catholic Church properties up for sale in Maine.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Notre Dame de Lourdes in Saco is one of the many Catholic Church properties up for sale in Maine.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer



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