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Vacant Niagara Falls Catholic church sold to Buddhist temple

Vacant Niagara Falls Catholic church sold to Buddhist temple

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(Derek Gee/News file photo)

The former St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Niagara Falls has been sold for $165,000 to a Buffalo Buddhist temple.

The closed church at 5604 Lindbergh Ave. sold for $165,000 to Wat Buddhakunaram Buddhist Temple, according to papers filed this week in State Supreme Court.

A judge must sign off on the sale of church property, according to New York State law.

The sale contract was signed Sept. 18, according to the court filing, although the deed has not yet been filed.

St. Charles Borromeo Church, incorporated in 1944, closed after the Diocese of Buffalo consolidated numerous parishes in 2008.

The court filing by the diocese said the sale was complicated because the title search revealed the former St. Charles real estate has been partially owned for decades by Prince of Peace parish.

Prince of Peace merged with St. Leo parish in the Town of Niagara to form the new St. Vincent De Paul parish, whose headquarters are located at the Prince of Peace site on Cayuga Drive.

Diocesan spokesman Greg Tucker said the money from the sale, once it's completed, eventually will go to St. John de LaSalle parish on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, which now includes the former St. Charles Borromeo territory. The money will not go to the diocese, he said.

After the title to the property is untangled, another court petition will be filed seeking approval of the actual sale, Tucker said.

Wat Buddhakunaram is a Thai Buddhist temple at 25 Lawrence Place, affiliated with the Dhammayut Order in the United States of America, according to its website. There was no answer to repeated calls to the temple.

In October, a 65-year-old man filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit alleging that he was sexually abused from 1966 to 1971, by the Rev. William G. Ward, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo and Prince of Peace at the time.

The plaintiff, who was allowed to remain anonymous by court order, was 12 to 17 years old in those years and an altar boy.

Ward's name was on the diocese's original list of 42 priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct, released in 2018.

The diocese has denied the allegations in the man's lawsuit, and a trial has been scheduled for July 28, 2021, by State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes.

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