BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The former St. Gerard Roman Catholic Church, a vacant Catholic church on Buffalo's east side, is answering a second calling. The Diocese sold the building for for $120,000 and it will be converted into a mosque.
Former pastor Father Butch Mazur says even with the current political and social climate around the country, the community should embrace the new place of worship.
"People should not be uncomfortable with having a mosque in this community. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has a long-standing, healthy, great relationship with the Muslim community for almost 40 years," Mazur said.
Some of the church's interior items have already been sold and church officials expect the sale to be completed sometime in the near future.
"There is an agreement to purchase this. Three men are buying the church and plan to use it as a house of worship and the sale should go through very soon. No closing date has been set but there is an agreement," said George Richert, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo's director in the office of communications.
Nearby residents say St. Gerard's was a part of the community's foundation for decades and played a big role in lives of families that attended.
"I'd say about four generations of my family, we've come to this place. My grandfather, my parents, their parents, my grandmother, aunts, uncles. All came to this church," said Michael Czora. "We had our eulogies and stuff here."
St. Gerard's was up for sale for eight years before an offer was placed on the property and though it's bittersweet for some, it will become a new place of worship for those in the Muslim community.