Mar 7, 2014

Proceeds from sale of former Catholic school will help build parish center



By Father Bill Pomerleau
(Iobserve file photo)

SPRINGFIELD – A Catholic parish in Springfield’s South End will proceed with plans to build a new parish center, thanks, in part, to the sale of its former school building.

The sale of the former Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School to the city of Springfield neared completion March 5 when the city council gave final approval to a $2,643,373 transaction.

The sale, which had been under discussion since the parish elementary school was merged into St. Michael’s Academy in 2009, was made possible when the city received $2.6 million in federal Community Development Block Grant disaster funds following the 2011 tornado that damaged or destroyed several private and public properties in the South End neighborhood.

The consolidation of Catholic elementary education in Springfield five years ago led to the sale of the former Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Hope school buildings to the city, which converted them into public elementary schools. The former Holy Name School has been leased to the city for use as a charter school and alternative education program, while Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was converted into a public middle school.

A lack of municipal fundraising led the city to lease rather than buy the latter two schools from the diocese.  

The agreement, which is in its final stage of completion, will give the city complete control of the Margaret Street building, and save it $320,000 a year in rent.

“We got a good deal, and the city got a good deal,” Stigmatine Father Robert White, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, told iobserve.

Father White said Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Diocese of Springfield was in the process of negotiating short-term use of the school building for its religious education program and occasional parish events such as The Taste of Italy and Twelfth Night.

He explained that the parish had recently acquired two pieces of property on Margaret and William Street adjacent to its church to construct a parish center. The sale proceeds from the school, along with additional fundraising, will pay for the center in the next two to three years, Father White added.