The convent and shrine of St. Katharine Drexel, just outside Philadelphia, is set to be sold for development as housing for residents 55 and older.
Aquinas Realty Partners has signed an agreement with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for the company to “proceed with due diligence” in assessing the property in Bensalem.
The National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel is located on the 44-acre estate, visible from I-95.
Sheila King, spokeswoman for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, said the decision came after reviewing proposals from several interested buyers.
“This is the first step working toward an agreement of sale. You can’t find properties such as the sisters’ Motherhouse property on Redfin or Zillow, so there are no comparables,” she said. “A lot of research has to be done to determine what the price should be.”
Completion of the deal will take time, King said.
“We think that it most likely take two to three years, but it could take longer,” she said.
The money from the sale would be used for missionary purposes.
“The goal is to come out with an agreement of sale that is mutually beneficial so that Aquinas can proceed with its plan and the sisters can take the proceeds from the sale to further support their missions and ministries in the United States, Jamaica and Haiti,” King said.
The remains of St. Katharine Drexel will be relocated to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City. Since last month, the shrine has been closed to the public.
Born in Philadelphia in 1858, Drexel renounced her fortune and founded the order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. She established the Motherhouse in Bensalem soon after that. She died in 1955 and was canonized in 2000.