Elaine church sale ends 106 years of worship

THE Catholic church has sought to allay fears that Elaine’s St Patrick’s church could be used as an alternative worship centre.

The building was purchased by an anonymous buyer at auction last month after the Melbourne archdiocese decided to wind up the congregation.

Parishioner Shane Dunne said residents wanted “straight answers” from the archdiocese as to whether the 106-year-old church on the Midland Highway could be used for other purposes.

There has been speculation the church was bought by a self-proclaimed bishop wanting to run an alternative worship centre.

“He’s on record saying if the church was to ever come on the market he’d buy it, and we have reason to believe a financial backer has bought it for him,” Mr Dunne said.

Archdiocese communications director James O’Farrell said the purchaser had confirmed they would obey the contract of sale.

“Under the terms of the contract . . . the property cannot be used by the purchaser for worship or other activities promoted or defined as Roman Catholic or Catholic without the express ecclesiastical approval of the church.’’

Mr O’Farrell also said the building could not be used for ‘‘any purpose significantly contrary’’ to the teachings of the church.

Earlier this year, Mr Dunne led a group of almost 30 parishioners who wanted the church to remain open, saying he was prepared to maintain it out of his own pocket.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,’’ he said in March.

‘‘All it needs is a bit of paint. We want the opportunity to appeal this decision. We don’t want the church going out on a bad note.”

Melbourne archdiocese Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennett said the church was sold on the condition it was not for “profane use”.

“While these decisions can be painful for the community involved . . . the decisions made are in the parish’s best interests.” 

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