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ByceAuction to sell church properties

Published: Sat, August 3, 2013 @ 12:06 a.m.




“Going once, going twice.” The auction phrases will be heard Aug. 24 when ByceAuction and Realty conducts the sale of the former Immaculate Conception Church and school-administrative building. A preview is planned from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday.

In years past, parishioners heard the words “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” within the sanctuary walls and students’ voices echoed in the school hallways.

On Jan. 9, 2011, Immaculate Conception, 811 Oak St., and Sacred Heart of Jesus churches, 400 Lincoln Park Drive, merged as part of the Diocese of Youngstown’s Parish Implementation Plan. The churches became St. Angela Merici Parish, based at the Sacred Heart site. The last Mass at Immaculate Conception was Jan. 30; the church, which had served the faithful for 128 years, closed. The church school closed in 2006.

The Rev. Kevin Peters, pastor of St. Angela Merici, explained that church properties in the diocese are titled to the bishop but the parish is financially responsible. The properties, he continued, had been up for sale since mid-2011. “The auction route seemed like a good approach,” he said.

Father Peters said the financial burden of maintaining the two church properties was too much. “We had double duty with maintenance, utilities and insurance,” he said. “We were struggling.”

He said the financial council of the parish recommended the sale and pastoral council approved it. “The goal was to have the parish decide what to do. It was emotional,” Father Peters admitted. But, he credited the councils and parish members for facing reality. “The decision was made for the good of the new parish,” he said. Its name recognizes the founder of the Ursuline Sisters, who were a presence at both churches.

Jim Miller, parish council member, said members realized the situation was “untenable.” “The cost of maintaining both was hefty stuff,” he said, so the practical decision was made.

At the time of the merger, Immaculate Conception counted 170 households and Sacred Heart, 310. Father Peters said after the merger, the count was at 312 but the parish now is growing and has 486 families.

A handcrafted wooden pulpit and altar, built by an Immaculate Conception member, was moved to Sacred Heart. “It helped blend the community,” Father Peters said. The pipe organ also was relocated to the new parish.

An upcoming project is moving the historic solid bronze bell, which weighs 600 pounds and is 35 inches in diameter. Verdian Bell Co. in Cincinnati, which installed the bell and is still in business, will re-install it at Sacred Heart.

Some of the stained-glass windows, those with sacred images, also will be removed. What will stay and what will be removed will be outlined at the auction.

Jeff Byce said he will conduct the live auction of the properties. He is advertising the properties in print and www.loopnet.com, an online commercial real- estate site. “I’ve sent out 6,000 postcards to various institutions that might have a use for the buildings,” he said.

The school-administration building has some 31,000 square feet and the rectory is move-in ready with six bedrooms.

The church, a unique property, Byce said, could be used by another congregation as a house of worship. It also would make a nice setting for an art gallery or architectural office because of its design details. “Historic tax credits could be used to help the buyer keep it historically significant,” Byce said.

Byce’s company has experience in this arena, having sold the Calvin Center, United Methodist Church in Mineral Ridge and Christ Our King Church in Warren.


1willinnyny(118 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

How very sad these beautiful churches have to be dismantled / destroyed. They are not only houses of worship, but also the cultural heritage of the Mahoning Valley and the Catholic immigrants who came to build Youngstown over one hundred years ago.

I made my First Holy Communion at Immaculate Conception 58 years ago. I remember clearly how very lovely the stained glass windows, statues, and Stations of the Cross were then.

My mother and father were married in Sacred Heart exactly 67 years ago today (August 3); it had a remarkably beautiful, hand-carved, marble altar from Italy with statues of saints and angels in niches.

The stained glass windows in both churches often had inscriptions memorializing family members who had died in whose name the windows were donated. It seems the gifts and memories of these people are looked upon as worthless, as now they will be forgotten.

Youngstown has so little of beauty left standing.
It is truly a shame to continue to obliterate what we have left.

People who donate money to build churches should have their gifts respected. But, this is clearly not the case. Many churches have been closed all over the country and with them many memories, works of art, and cultural heritage and identities have been lost.

Catholic dioceses can be far more creative and do much better than just liquidate the gifts that poor and struggling immigrants once sacrificed to give them for building churches they thought would stand for hundreds of years as a testament of their faith.

The poor are always with us, but the churches that they worked to build are vanishing. For many unsatisfactory reasons, the dioceses have broken the trust placed in them when the people who paid for the churches first built them.

For this reason, I will no longer give one penny to build another church. And I advise all those who would to take note of how undervalued their donations and efforts are eventually valued.

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2proud1(6 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I wouldn't let ByceAuction sell my stained under shorts!

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3kensgirl(1057 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

My grandparents belonged to The Immaculate for decades with my grandmother teaching there also, It was a place where the Irish immigrants could worship and bond. I heard many stories of Fr. Kenny and how he ruled the roost. So sad to see how much Youngstown has changed. The good old days are gone. And with it so many beautiful churches.

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