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Archdiocese of Philadelphia plans to sell Jersey Shore villa

By Amy S. Rosenberg

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, July 3 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"It was great growing up there," Ferry said. "You'd hear them singing the high Mass in Latin. It was beautiful."

Under the direction of Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, the church embarked on a $500,000 renovation at the same time it was closing parishes in Philadelphia, leading to protests at the property.

The renovations later were said to have been paid for by the Connelly family, which also owns property on Princeton.

Fran Deibert, whose family has managed the house for the archdiocese for 25 years, said 12 priests were at the house for this final week. One, a blind monsignor, sat on the front porch Tuesday afternoon and smoked a pipe. Others lounged on the deck. Neighbors said they often saw the priests around the beach and on the Boardwalk.

"It's been a wonderful job," said Deibert, who paused for a moment before she returned to overseeing the house's last guests. "Very rewarding."

The Catholic Church used to own a number of summer Shore homes for retired priests and vacation and respite houses for nuns, but financial pressures have changed that.

Another landmark Tudor beachfront home in Ventnor, with a distinctive red cupola and a round interior chapel, was sold several years ago by the Sisters of Charity of New York for $3 million. The property was torn down and subdivided for new construction. The sisters said they could no longer afford the taxes.

"It's the end of an era when they have to give up their summer home, their respite home," said Gail Slogoff, another Princeton Avenue neighbor, who recalled fondly the time lightning struck a chimney on a nearby home and a priest assured her he was praying for her.

"It's always been beautiful, a real landmark in Ventnor," she said.

©2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer; Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.com; Distributed by MCT Information Services

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