World March 12, 2018

Nun involved in Katy Perry real estate dispute dies in court

By Mary Rezac

Sister Catherine Rose Holzman. Credit: Everipedia Content CC by SA 2.0

Los Angeles (CNA/EWTN News)—Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, 89, was one of five remaining members of her religious community, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles.

She died suddenly on March 9, after collapsing during court proceedings for a legal dispute involving Katy Perry and some real estate formerly owned by the sisters.

In a statement following her death, Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said he was sad to hear of the sister’s death and that he had offered a Mass for the repose of her soul.

“Sister Catherine Rose served the Church with dedication and love for many years and today we remember her life with gratitude,” he said.

“We extend our prayers today to the Immaculate Heart of Mary community and to all her friends and loved ones. On behalf of the entire family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I pray that God grant her eternal rest and let his perpetual light shine upon her,” he added.

Holzman had recently been involved in a legal dispute over a vacant convent used by the order, which singer Katy Perry had offered to buy from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for more than $14 million in 2015. According to the archdiocese, this deal stipulated that Perry find a replacement for a priest’s retreat house that was also part of the property.

Church regulations require Vatican approval for the sale of high-value properties, and the order has been in a dispute with the archdiocese over who has the canonical and legal right to orchestrate a sale of the property.

Holzman and another sister of the order opposed the sale of the property to Perry, due to the content of some of the pop star’s songs. In a separate transaction, and without the canonically-required approval of the Vatican or the archdiocese, the sisters sold the vacant convent property to real estate developer Dana Hollister for $44,000 and a promissory note totaling $15.5 million, without any guarantee for the rest of the payment.  

Last year, a jury found Hollister guilty of malice and fraud for intentionally interfering with the sale of the property to Perry. A court ordered Hollister to pay back $15 million in legal fees to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and to Perry’s company, The Bird Nest, LLC.

Holzman died while attending Hollister’s bankruptcy hearing.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Adrian Marquez Alarcon told CNA that while Sister Holzman and Sister Rita Callanan have been vocal about the case and opposed the sale to Katy Perry, the two sisters were never legally involved in the real estate dispute.

Alarcon said that the archdiocese, joined by Perry, took legal action in 2015 to protect the sisters from the illegal and invalid sale to Hollister. She also noted that as recently as December, the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura affirmed that the archdiocese was the proper legal owner of the vacant convent property.

Alarcon also added that the archdiocese has promised to take care of the IHM sisters regardless of what happens with the property.

Post-judgement court proceedings involving Hollister and the archdiocese are temporarily on hold following Holzman’s death.