Buffalo Diocese may sell UB’s Newman Center to fund child sex abuse settlement

The Spectrum - Student Newspaper at the University of Buffalo [Buffalo NY]

March 4, 2024

By Sol Hauser

UB’s Newman Center Catholic Ministry appeared on a list of 22 properties the bankrupt Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo may sell, as it attempts to raise $100 million to settle nearly 900 claims of child sex abuse.

That list, filed in bankruptcy court, also included Newman Centers on Elmwood Avenue and in Alfred. The diocese is also selling its longtime headquarters, the Catholic Center, at the corner of Main and Goodell Streets in downtown Buffalo.

Besides the Catholic Center and the Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, the diocese doesn’t yet know which properties it will sell, Joe Martone, the diocese’s communication director, said Friday.

“It really depends a lot on how bankruptcy proceedings continue,” Martone said. “In the diocese, we’ve asked our parishes to take a look at their underutilized real estate and see what may be available for potentially being put on the market, to raise funds for the eventual settlement for the victims of sexual abuse. So it’s really unclear.”

Writing in the UB Newman Center’s February bulletin, the Rev. Paul Seil pointed out that while his own home will be sold, the center may remain.

“While I have been informed numerous times that the condo will be sold (to help fund the settlement to the victims of clergy abuse and the cover-up), that does not mean the same for the Newman Center!” Seil wrote in the newsletter.

Seil could not be reached for comment for this article, but he declined to comment to The Buffalo News last week.

St. Joseph’s University Parish, located next to UB’s South Campus, will not be affected.

UB’s Newman Center first opened in 1936, but the diocese purchased the current Skinnersville Road site, adjacent to UB’s Creekside Village apartments and North Campus, in 1967 and began construction in 2009, at an estimated cost of $2.7 million. Before the Skinnersville Road building opened, the Newman Center rented a chapel at the intersection of Frontier Road and the John James Audubon Parkway and maintained offices in the UB Commons.

Newman Centers are Catholic ministries at secular colleges and universities. The first center was established at Oxford University in 1878 as a club for Catholic students. 2,687 Newman Centers are active on over 800 college campuses, according to the Newman Ministry.

A representative for Campus Ministries, the recognizing body for religious organizations on campus, did not respond to a request for comment.

Sol Hauser is the senior news editor and can be reached at sol.hauser@ubspectrum.com.