Bankrupt Diocese Selling Assets, Closing Schools

The Diocese of Rockville Centre (DRVC) has sold its Pastoral Center for $5.2 million, which will be used to pay creditors. It also announced three more schools would not reopen after this school year, in addition to seven grammar schools that have closed in the past year because of declining enrollments.

The sale of the Pastoral Center has been approved by the Bankruptcy Court. The Diocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors have agreed that all proceeds from the sale will be used exclusively to compensate creditors.

Synergy Holding Partners LLC acquired the five-story office building at the corner of North Park Avenue and Sunrise Highway and the adjacent 58-space parking lot in Rockville Centre, N.Y. As part of the agreement, the diocese will continue to occupy the building until Aug. 31, 2021, while it completes its transition to new facilities. A location for a new headquarters has not been determined.

The diocese will continue to operate much as it has for the past year with employees working remotely from home and according to COVID-19 protocols when they are in the office or holding in-person meetings. The sale and the upcoming move are not expected to interrupt the daily operations of the diocese.

“The sale and our relocation will have no effect on our ministry. In fact, the operating efficiencies that will result are expected to free resources that can be directed to those with the greatest need,” Fr. Eric Fasano, Vicar General, Diocese of Rockville Centre, said in a press release.

The diocese said it began marketing the Pastoral Center for sale in 2018 after determining, as part of its cost reduction efforts, that the property was no longer cost effective. 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.

In October, the diocese became the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy in October amid more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations under New York State’s Child Victims Act. The Child Victims Act allows childhood victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims beyond the statute of limitations. The diocese is home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, making it about the eighth largest in the U.S. On top of mounting legal costs, the diocese estimated that annual revenue was down about 40% as services were suspended or restricted amid the pandemic.