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Archdiocese of Philadelphia to close, sell Villa St. Joseph-by-the-Sea in Ventnor

VENTNOR — Priests accustomed to spending summers during their retirement at a diocese-owned Ventnor beach house will no longer be able to do so, effective Saturday.

That’s when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will close Villa St. Joseph-by-the-Sea, a 12-room stucco mansion on the Boardwalk at Princeton Avenue. Retired priests have reserved rooms there for getaways during May through October since 1963, said Frances Deibert, whose family has worked there since shortly after it opened and managed it for almost three decades.

Financial difficulties forced the decision: Selling the property, which is assessed at $6.2 million, will help balance the archdiocese’s $17 million deficit. The recent conclusion of a sex abuse case will cost the church an additional $11 million, but the diocese said that is not a factor.

Accessible only to staff and the retired priests with reservations there, the three-level, 1920s-era house features a chapel overlooking the ocean and secluded backyard surrounded by thick trees and high brick walls.

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By Emily Previti

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