WEST GROVE >> Assumption BVM Pastor Father Scott Brockson has announced the sale of the old Blessed Virgin Mary Church complex that sits along Evergreen Avenue in the borough. In all it includes the church, the rectory and the convent, and it occupies 1.8 acres of ground.
In a message to his congregation, Brockson said the church had purchased a new dwelling in the 300 block of Welcome Avenue in the Heather Grove development, where he and Monsignor Frank Depman of St. Rocco Church had moved two weeks ago.
Previously, Father Scott and Father Frank, as they are called, had shared the old rectory, Depman having occupied it for 28 years.
The old church, which was built in 1873, was abandoned in 2014 in favor of the new church on State Road across from Avon Grove High School. The old property was recently brought by Richard Walkup, and Brockson said he understands it will not be torn down. Rather it will be renovated and used for special events.
“We were worried about losing the ball tower,” Brockson said.
The sale of the complex and the purchase of the new rectory was overseen by the Assumption BVM Pastoral and Financial councils and approved by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The new rectory was purchased for $327,857 including closing costs. The house was thoroughly checked out by a professional inspector and deemed by him to be in good shape and worthy of our investment, after the seller addressed a few issues, Brockson said. One of the advantages of the Heather Grove dwelling is its close proximity to the current church building.
“Our new rectory is ready for immediate occupancy but we need to make some changes for it to serve as a long-term residence for two priests. The major selling point of 316 Welcome Avenue was the location. The second was the potential to turn the basement into the living quarters for Msgr. Depman,” Brockson said in a notice to his church members.
He added that the new dwelling is roomy with four bedrooms, allowing for living spaces and offices for the two priests.
He said of Depman, “For almost 28 years Monsignor has lived in the attic of the old rectory without any complaints. We now have an opportunity to provide this hard-working servant of God with a living space that is more suitable and worthy of him. He has been a great friend of the parish, always available for Mass and emergency calls when needed.”
“The work to turn the basement into comfortable living quarters will cost over $65,000. Rugs for other parts of the house and moving costs will come to another $10,000. It’s funny how we have to spend money to save it, but fortunately these are only one-and-done expenses,” Brockson said.
This will be a money-saving event for the church because there will be lower taxes on the new property and less insurance costs. Additionally, the sale forestalled fixing the chapel roof and repairing the windows and walls in the old complex.
The proceeds from the sale of the Evergreen Street properties will cover most of our costs.
The church has already received pledges of $23,000 in support of the rectory project, however, but is still in need of additional funds.
Depman will ultimately occupy the renovated basement of the new rectory, but before he moves into that part of the dwelling it will need work that includes
putting in a door for immediate access to the outside (a safety issue), expanding the bathroom to include a shower, replacing an old rug, and putting in a heater/air-conditioning unit in the sitting room and bedroom.
Brockson said it may take some time to get this done, Depman in the meantime will use a guest room on the second floor.
The living arrangement is prompted by the fact that St. Rocco Church, which was opened in 2011 does not have a rectory — a home for the priest. Therefore, Depman has been housed as a guest of nearby Assumption BVM.
Although Assumption and St. Rocco are geographically close to each other, their designations are different. St. Rocco is a national church, meaning that it was established to serve a specific demographic — the Hispanic community. Assumption BVM is a territorial church, serving Catholics in a specific (geographical) area.
The housing for Depman was worked out between the two churches with the approval of the Archdiocese.
Brockson said he is willing to take his members on a tour of the new rectory.
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