VENTNOR, N.J. -- The sight of elderly Catholic priests rocking in wicker chairs outside the grand oceanfront home on Princeton Avenue in Ventnor, N.J. has been a familiar part of this seaside town about 5 miles from Atlantic City for nearly a half-century.
But that era is about to come to a close after an order by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to shut the archdiocese of Philadelphia's 19-room vacation home at the shore by today and put it up for sale.
"It's not listed with a broker yet, but will be soon," archdiocesan spokesman Kenneth Gavin said of the property, which stretches a full block and is assessed at $6.2 million.
The retired priests who had planned a stay at Villa St. Joseph by the Sea were recently told that their reservations would be canceled as of today, the end of the archdiocese's fiscal year.
Facing a $17 million operating deficit and a cost of at least $11.6 million for its response to the 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sex abuse, the archdiocese has been engaged in massive restructuring, cost-cutting, and selling of assets.
The 21,875-square-foot villa, which last year cost the archdiocese $114,562 in property taxes, was acquired by Archbishop John Krol in 1963 from Hannah G. Hogan, a real estate investor and owner of a plumbing supply company. Ms. Hogan wanted the home used for elderly and ill priests in memory of her brother, the Rev. Edward Hogan.