Philadelphia archdiocese to sell major properties

Villa St Joseph by the Sea is the property being sold by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Courtesy Max Spann Archdiocese of Philadelphia CNA500x315 US Catholic News 8 13 12 Villa St. Joseph by the Sea in Ventnor, N.J. is being sold by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Max Spann Real Estate.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced it will sell some of its large real estate holdings, including the archbishop's residence, to reduce operating costs in the face of a multi-million dollar deficit.

"The decision to sell these properties was not made lightly, but rather after prayer and careful consideration," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said Aug. 13. "Selling these assets will help us as we work to ensure the long-term financial stability and position the archdiocese for future growth. It will also allow us to remain committed to the services and support we provide to the faithful as well as the broader community."

The archbishop compared the "hard decisions" to what families have to do when their expenses exceed their income.

The archdiocese expects to sell the archbishop's residence in a private transaction. It will also sell its Villa Saint Joseph by the Sea property in Ventnor, N.J.

The villa was built in 1905. It has been a summer vacation home for the archdiocese's retired priests since 1963. The 9,800-square-foot mansion is on a half-acre property with 17 feet of beach. It has 11 bedrooms, each with its own private bath.

The Villa Saint Joseph by the Sea, which is minutes from Atlantic City, will be sold at auction by the Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co.

Also up for sale will be The Holy Family Center and the northern portion of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center's parking lot at 17th Street and Vine Street in Philadelphia. The 20,000 square foot former convent presently serves as office space for various Catholic Social Services agencies, which will be relocated without a reduction in workforce, the archdiocese says.

The archdiocese plans to sell the Mary Immaculate Center in Northampton, Penn. The 452 acre property was built in 1939 as a seminary for the Congregation of Missions of Saint Vincent de Paul. From 1991 to 2005 it housed the Spirituality Year Program for the seminarians of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Since 2005, it has served as a retreat center.

The archdiocese said that if internal approvals, including approvals from the Vatican, are required to sell the property they will be obtained prior to the closure of a sale.

The archdiocese faces an operating deficit of at least $6 million for the fiscal year beginning in July 2012, not including any extraordinary costs.

"We just can't afford to maintain and hold assets like Villa Saint Joseph by the Sea and my residence," Archbishop Chaput said. "Holding on to these properties at this time would be inconsistent with the mission of our Church."

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