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Diocese sells Tarentum, McKeesport church properties

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Andrew Johnson
Friday, February 16, 2007

Two shuttered churches in Tarentum and McKeesport have been sold to the Manhattan real estate firm, The Follieri Group LLC, according to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The properties are the St. Clement Church owned by the Holy Martyrs Parish in Tarentum and St. Stephen Church owned by St. Pius V Parish in McKeesport. The St. Clement deal also involves school buildings and a parking lot, said diocesan spokesman Rev. Ronald Lengwin.

The Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds has no record of the Tarentum transaction. But St. Stephen Church, located on Beacon Street in McKeesport, sold in January for $60,000, part of a “package deal” that includes a rectory, school building, and two parking lots, said Rev. Edward Litavec, pastor of the St. Pius V. He said St. Stephen Church closed in 2002 and merged with St. Pius V.

Litavec said money from the sale would go to care for St. Stephen Cemetery on Westinghouse Avenue in North Versailles.

Lengwin said The Follieri Group is interested in several other properties, and sales agreements on three have been reached, including one for the historic St. Nicholas Church on the North Side. Lengwin refused to give the price and also declined to name the other two churches.
He said a fourth church is for sale, but declined to name it.

Messages left for The Follieri Group were not returned, but on its Web site, the company says that church properties it acquires “are converted to uses that would continue to serve and contribute to their respective communities in a socially responsible fashion consistent with the ideals of the Church.”

Some uses include “low and middle income housing, community centers, day-care facilities, senior citizen housing, places of worship, offices and retail spaces,” according to the company.

“We have confidence that they will live up to their promise,” Lengwin said.

Litavec said he has no idea what The Follieri Group intends to do with the empty McKeesport church.

“We were just so happy it sold,” he said. “There was always somebody breaking into the place.”

Since 2002, 15 vacant church buildings, including St. Stephen and St. Clement, have been sold, Lengwin said. All money made from selling church properties goes to the parish selling the individual church, Lengwin said.

Andrew Johnson can be reached at or 412-380-5632.

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