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Rockville Centre Diocese sells headquarters for $5.2 million

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The Diocese of Rockville Centre has sold its Pastoral Center headquarters, on North Park Avenue in downtown Rockville Centre, for $5.2 million, church officials announced last Friday.

The diocese began marketing the property in 2018, after determining that it was too costly to operate the facility, according to church officials. It was unclear at press time where the diocese might find new headquarters, or what might become of the Pastoral Center.

Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the diocese, said that diocesan operations should not be affected by the sale, and that the church decided to sell its headquarters mainly because the diocese “does not currently use all the available space in the building and plans to relocate to offices that are better suited to its needs and a better use of its resources.”

Dolan said that the move could result in separate headquarters for different ministries and functions.

The Hempstead-based Synergy Holding Partners LLC purchased the five-story structure, which includes an adjacent 58-space parking lot.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October because of the financial strain of lawsuits from sexual abuse victims under New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in 2019.

Rockville Centre is among the nation’s 10 largest dioceses, home to 1.4 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It is among a growing number of dioceses that are filing for bankruptcy because they must defend themselves from sexual abuse lawsuits. It is the largest diocese to file to date.

Bishop John Barres, its spiritual leader, announced the bankruptcy filing, which was made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Sale of the Pastoral Center was approved in Bankruptcy Court. Proceeds from the sale will pay the diocese’s creditors.

The diocese will remain at the North Park Avenue building until Aug. 31, while it moves to a new facility. The sale is not expected to interrupt its daily operations, since many employees have been working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, church officials said.

“The operating efficiencies that will result are expected to free resources that can be directed to those with the greatest need,” the Rev. Eric Fasano, the diocese’s vicar general, said in a statement.

The diocese has also closed several of its elementary schools in the past year, citing declining enrollment and limited finances, problems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Church officials announced in March that Saint Christopher’s School, in Baldwin, Saint Raymond School, in East Rockaway, and Saint Thomas the Apostle School, in West Hempstead, will close at the end of the school year.

“After consultation with financial experts, advisors and representatives, the pastors of the parishes that support each school have made the difficult decision to close,” Dolan said in a statement.

Announcing the school closures “is very, very sad,” he added. “The Diocese of Rockville Centre thanks the dedicated and committed principals and teachers, both lay and religious, who have taught in these schools.”