Papal plea: Boro’s top Catholic shares concerns over Angel Guardian sale with Vatican

Catholic Charities balks at buying Angel Guardian Home
Orphaned home: The Sisters of Mercy had hoped to sell the Angel Guardian Home in Dyker Heights to Catholic Charities to be converted to affordable senior housing, but the deal fell though.
File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

He’s praying for mercy!

Kings County’s Catholic-in-chief, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, sent a letter to the Vatican in Rome expressing his concerns over the sale of the Angel Guardian home and what would become of it, underscoring locals’ worries that the new development may not benefit the community, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Brooklyn has confirmed.

The Vatican must approve all sales of church property, according to the spokeswoman, and solicited the Bishop’s opinion of the sale as part of the decision-making process. DiMarzio sent his thoughts in a letter last month, the spokeswoman said, adding that the Diocese would not release the Bishop’s letter because it is confidential.

On Feb. 20, Bay Ridge state Sen. Marty Golden penned a letter to the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Rev. Christophe Pierre, requesting that Catholic Church bigwigs heed DiMarzio’s concerns. Golden also outlined the community’s opposition to the sale of the home and frustration with the lack of communication from the order of nuns selling the property, the Sisters of Mercy, who once ran an orphanage at the Dyker Heights complex.

In December, this newspaper’s sister publication, the Bay Ridge Courier, broke the news that the Sisters sold the property to a mystery buyer, with many in the community worried that the developer will bulldoze the more-than-century-old structure to make room for luxury condos.

And after our sister newspaper exclusively reported early last year that the nuns were putting the property on the market, a group of locals calling themselves the Guardians of the Guardian Committee formed to lobby the Sisters of Mercy to pick a buyer who would develop the property into something the community needs, such as a school or affordable senior housing.

But the nuns chose a reported $25-million bid from the as-yet-unnamed developer over a rumored $14-million bid by Catholic Charities, which had hoped to develop affordable senior housing.

The Sisters of Mercy did not respond to a request for comment for this story by press time, but said at the time of the sale that the mystery buyer’s plans do include “some affordable housing.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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