When Benny Tauro immigrated from Avellino, Italy to East Boston in 1952 he brought with him a strong sense of family and the belief in the Catholic Church.
It was here that he found a second home among the Italian community that was part of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish.
“If it wasn’t for this Church I probably would have gone back to Italy,” said Tauro. “Here I found a second family and we all became very active members of the church and community.”
Then, when it was announced on Columbus Day weekend 11 years ago that the Archdiocese would close Mt. Carmel, Tauro and his neighbors banded together and held a vigil at the church until 2011.
“We hoped that the Archdiocese would see our commitment to the church and change their mind but it never happened,” said Tauro.
It was announced this week that the Archdiocese sold the church in August for $3.05 million. The sale, according to Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon the sale includes the church, convent, hall, rectory and parking lot.
Now, residents like Gina Scalcione who helped lead the vigil when the church was first closed over a decade ago are anxiously awaiting a meeting with the new owner to discuss the development ideas for the church’s properties.
Scalcione who helps run the Gove Street Citizens Association worries that the large size of the site that developers will make a move to build hundreds of units of housing.
Scalcione also vowed to keep a close watch on the development of the church after what had occurred neatly 10 years ago during the sale of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea on Moore Street.
In February 2006, the Archdiocese accepted an $850,000 offer to buy St. Mary’s and surrounding property, which the new owner allegedly planned to turn into a photography studio and condos.
Nineteen days later, the church property was sold for $2.65 million to an evangelist church based in Brazil – the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God resulting in a $1.8 million profit.
The purchase of the church for $850,000 and its subsequent sale for $2.6 million 19 days later caused an outcry from the local community and it also placed a peculiar light on the archdiocese’s seemingly odd sale procedures.
However, in a statement from Archdiocese when the Archdiocese officially put and end to the vigil and began marketing the church, the final formal steps in the sale of a Church building depend on local circumstances.
“The building is listed for sale and negotiations are undertaken with potential buyers. Prior to a sale, and depending on the value of the property, the Archdiocesan Finance Council would also be involved,” said Donilon . “As stated above, no church which is relegated for profane use (like Mt. Carmel) will be sold for any purpose which is unbecoming, immoral or offensive to Catholics.”
Mount Carmel Church was sold for $3.05 million.