Committee begins transition for closure of Yona seminary

CLOSING: The Redemptoris Mater Seminary is pictured. The church's transition committee expects most of the transition items for the seminary's closure to be completed by December. Post file photo

Most of the transition items for the closure of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary may be completed by December, according to Deacon Steve Martinez, who oversees the church's transition committee. The transition timeline, however, runs into January of next year. 

Part of the committee's responsibilities is ensuring that the land and property where the seminary is located – the former Accion Hotel in Yona – is maintained for appraisal in the event the archdiocese sells the property to fund a settlement agreement for more than 130 sexual abuse cases in the district and local courts.

The exact value of the property is unknown to Martinez. However, the market value was estimated at $70 million when he served as finance officer for the archdiocese around 2006 and 2007, according to the deacon.

That value may be too high for today's market, Martinez added, noting recent speculation that the property's value may be closer to $45 million. He was unaware of when the last appraisal was conducted.

The archdiocese acquired the property in the early 2000s for about $1.9 million. The sale of the property requires approval from three overseeing bodies.

The Archdiocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors have provided their approval. The third body, the Holy See in Rome, has been made aware of intentions to sell the property.

But despite the potential sale lingering over the archdiocese, the priority at the moment is the well-being of the 15 to 20 seminarians attending the college, according to Martinez.

The upcoming priests will be transferred to seminaries outside the region to continue their studies, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes has previously stated.

The archbishop wants to ensure these affairs are in order prior to the seminary's closure at the end of the year. He indicated that this was to be the prime focus during the first committee meeting on Oct. 23. 

Next on the priority list will be how to address seminary employees and volunteers once timelines are established for seminarian transfers.

"The transition team will also need to consider the proper gathering of records, which include academic and spiritual review, personnel and financial documents, and tax records," Martinez said. 

"We will also have to get a list of all assets at the seminary and then have the archbishop determine how best to utilize these assets after the seminary closes."

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