Sale of Benedictine Sisters' Convent in Ross May Be Announced Soon
The sisters plan to downsize to a newly purchased property in Richland Township.
The Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh may soon announce the sale of their 78,000-square-foot convent in Ross Township as they prepare to move to Richland Township.
"We have a serious buyer, but it's still in the negotiating stage," said Sister Evelyn Dettling, a spokeswoman for the convent, which is located at 4530 Perrysville Avenue.
The sisters purchased property in Richland Township in December 2011 and are planning to build a new home about a third of the size of their current quarters, where they have lived and served in Ross Township since about 1926.
Dettling dropped no hint of whom the interested buyer might be.
The convent, which is on about 10.8 acres and includes a 40,000-square-foot school that was the former all-girls St. Benedict's Academy, has been on the market for about two years.
The property was appraised in November 2009 at $3.2 million, according to Sister Benita DeMatteis. She said the sisters decided to sell the property because it was too large to maintain for the order’s remaining 52 members.
Sister Carolyn Kunzler, who at age 92 is the second oldest sister in the monastic community of women, said she is looking forward to celebrating the 75th Jubilee of her monastic profession of vows in the new convent.
"I think it's going to be very beautiful," she said of the new home. "We're going to be over there in another year and a half."
Kunzler said she joined the Benedictine Sisters when she was 13 years old. Two siblings also joined the convent. Kunzler taught chemistry at St. Benedict's Academy between 1949 and 1980.
On Saturday, former students dropped in to see Kunzler and visit with other former teachers. The visits were part of a series of open houses the community has been holding since March to say farewell to the place that has been home for so many decades.
"This will be the last time we'll see the school," said Frances Munson, who graduated in 1952 and attended the open house Saturday.
She said seeing the cafeteria again brought back memories of dancing to a jukebox and eating popcorn.
"It was all girls and we were close," she said.
The open houses include rare tours of the monastery, which have been a real treat for the former students, Dettling said.
"The high school girls were not allowed in the convent except for the chapel," she said. "There was a mystique around it."