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Sold . . . Subject to final contract obligations being met, the Sacred Heart Parish Centre will be sold and become a mosque.PHOTO:CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

The sale of Timaru’s Catholic Sacred Heart Parish Centre to the local Muslim community went ahead last week.

There are plans to develop the building as a mosque.

“It became unconditional last week and it looks like it will go through,” parish priest Fr Brian Fennessy said.

“For us it is just another sale.”

Once a sale becomes unconditional the purchaser is legally bound to purchase the property.

“We went through with the bishop and had no problem. Times have changed.”

Holy Family parishioners were unaware of the sale until learning about it from the media.

Fr Fennessy said when the news came out via the Muslim community the sale was still only conditional and had not been finalised.

“We’re very happy with the sale. It wouldn’t have been easy to sell.”

He did not see any problem in having a mosque and the Muslim community as neighbours.

“I see no problem at all.”

Holy Family parish chairman Gary Shand said parishioners were happy with the sale.

“I haven’t heard anything negative about it.

“We went through with the bishop and had no problem. Times have changed.”

Under the sale contract, the Timaru Muslim Educational Trust has paid a deposit and will have to pay the remainder of the tender by September.

“It was tendered and a very good deal,” Mr Shand said.

The value of the land and property, which includes an adjoining two-section car park, was around $300,000.

The successful tender was “well over” this, he said.

“Before we did anything we asked the bishop and he accepted; he saw it as common sense.”

Mr Shand said the Muslim community wanted to use the building for prayer and education.

Until the handover in September, it would be used by the Catholic Women’s League and and prayer group.

The building was originally a clubrooms and squash courts for the Celtic Rugby Club.

Money raised by the sale will go towards paying for the cost of building a new parish centre and sporting complex, to be shared with Roncalli College.