When Katy Perry decided to buy a convent to convert into her personal mansion, there’s no doubt she thought the nuns living there would just roll over and surrender. Ms Perry is getting a reality check of biblical proportions, as the elderly Sisters living there are putting up an epic fight to keep the convent that they purchased decades ago with their own money.
At 79 years of age, Sister Rita Callanan remains in active ministry at St. Bernadette’s, despite assorted health problems including diabetes and breast cancer. But what truly ails her nowadays is the recent death of her friend and fellow sister in the Order of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Earlier this month, 89-year-old Sister Catherine Rose Holzman collapsed and died during a court proceeding in downtown Los Angeles.
As two of the last five living sisters of the Immaculate Heart, Sisters Rita and Catherine Rose were embroiled in a legal saga that could only happen in Los Angeles. The nuns claimed that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was attempting to sell a convent that belongs to them to pop star Katy Perry for a cool $14.5 million, reports The Daily Beast.
With Sister Catherine Rose’s death on March 9, Sister Rita became the lone holdout who remains opposed to the sale.
The convent in question is an estate seemingly made for a chart-topping superstar—a breathtaking Mediterranean-style villa perched on 8 acres in the tony hills of the Los Feliz neighborhood with a fountain, pool, and commanding views of the San Gabriel Valley and downtown.
It was built in 1927 by architect Bernard Maybeck for businessman Earle C. Anthony. The sisters purchased the property in 1972 at a favorable price of $600,000 from Sir Daniel Donohue, who had been the owner since the early 1950s. The nuns bought the property by pooling income they earned as educators in the parochial schools of Los Angeles.
“To us it is holy ground,” Sister Rita said.
The property dispute boils down to which party had the authority to sell. Sisters Rita and Catherine Rose have said they are the rightful owners and that the archdiocese put an end to retreats and other sources of revenue, evicted the sisters, and took over the convent.
Sister Rita says the Vatican approved an agreement in 1992 that guarantees every nun in the order be taken care of “down to the very last sister.”
A company owned by Perry had already made a cash offer that was approved by the archbishop, according to the statement.
McKool Smith Hennigan, the law firm that represents the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Horacio Gómez, said in a statement: “A majority of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters agreed to have the Archbishop sell their former convent on their behalf in 2014 with all proceeds going to the Institute for the care of the Sisters.”
She has started a Go Fund Me to continue the legal fight and prevent the sale of the convent to Katy Perry. “It is now more important than ever to continue this fight and for our cause to prevail,” she wrote.
Sister Rita put the onus on the archbishop, but said she wished the singer would relent: “I just feel that Katy Perry is used to getting all she wants, and to her money means everything, and to her, whatever Katy wants, Katy gets.”
She said other Catholic orders would do well to heed the fate of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart. “I say to the brothers and sisters about this case, please watch carefully because if our archbishop can take our property away from us and our money then it can happen to you.”
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March 22nd, 2018