Sydney Diocesan Centre Sold

By Sherri Borden Colley
The Chronicle-Herald
October 5, 2010

A community-based, non-profit organization is the new owner of the Sydney Diocesan Pastoral Centre, the first property sold off by the Diocese of Antigonish to help pay a financial settlement in a lawsuit with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Rankin MacSween, president of New Dawn Enterprises, confirmed Monday that the community development organization purchased the building at 75 Prince St. in downtown Sydney. He would not disclose the purchase price.

"We plan to the make the move in the new year and it will house our administrative office," MacSween said.

"Our reason for the move . . . is we’re ambitious to do more in terms of serving the community. We’re a relatively small administrative staff so the whole business of efficiency is really important. So it’s just more efficient at this point to be downtown."

Of New Dawn’s 175 employees, 16 to 18 work in administration.

Asked whether the organization got a deal on the property due to the circumstances under which the church properties are being sold, MacSween said it did not.

"It was a straight business proposition for us. We have been looking for something downtown, an appropriate facility and this one happened to come up."

New Dawn is located at Pine Tree Park, on the former Sydney radar base, adjacent to Whitney Pier.

Diocese spokesman Rev. Paul Abbass said Monday night that the move to list the pastoral centre was, in part, symbolic.

"It was the recommendation of the real estate committee that the diocese should show, I think, solidarity with the rest of the diocese by putting one of its own buildings up right at the top.

"It was the first building that we listed and it’s the building that would represent, in a sense, the diocese because it’s the central administration building of the diocese."

The building’s sale doesn’t mean that layoffs are imminent for pastoral centre staff. "We have no plans in that regard," Abbass said.

It’s not yet known where the diocese will move the pastoral centre’s programs and administration, but Abbass said that should be settled within two weeks.

About 400 church properties in northern Nova Scotia, described by Abbass as non-core assets, have to be sold to raise $18 million for the lawsuit.

The diocese has listed about 40 of its properties for sale and is listing an average of 10 a week, Abbass said.

Some of the properties for sale so far include an unoccupied rectory and land in Mulgrave, a piece of unoccupied land in Georgeville and a former convent belonging to Stella Maris parish in Pictou.

Villa Madonna Retreat is not yet up for sale, but that doesn’t mean the 24-hectare parcel in Little Bras d’Or is exempt. Abbass said there are retreats scheduled at the property and it is still being reviewed.




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