SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – The Catholic Diocese of San Jose has purchased a five-bedroom, $2.3 million home in Silicon Valley for its retiring bishop despite the 640,000-member diocese’s mission of charity and serving the poor.
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, 73, acknowledged in an interview with the Mercury News of San Jose that the price tag is “a lot of money,” saying “I could understand” it might not sit well with some parishioners.
The nearly 3,300-sq.-foot (306 sq.-meter) home’s listing boasts of a “grand-sized chef’s kitchen,” “soaring ceilings” and “luxurious master ensuite” with a “spa-like marble bathroom” in a “Tuscan estate.”
It was purchased with funds set aside for paying the costs of a bishop’s housing and upkeep after retirement, said diocese communications director Liz Sullivan. She said the diocese was “following the policy set forth by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops” in purchasing the home.
McGrath said the diocese also got the proceeds from selling a condominium where his predecessor, retired Bishop Pierre DuMaine, lived before moving into assisted living.
“The fund is a fund that can be used for nothing else,” McGrath said. “When I’m not around anymore, the house can be sold. It’s a good investment in that sense. It probably makes more money this way than if it were in the bank.”
Still, the purchase appears at odds with McGrath’s previously expressed concerns about housing inequality in Northern California.
In 2016, McGrath co-authored an article backing a $950 million bond measure for affordable housing in which he wrote “too many children and families are living in cars or tripled up with other families in small homes because they can’t afford the rent on their own.”
“There is no moral or social justification, no justification whatsoever, for the lack of housing,” he wrote.
Many retired clergy choose to live in a retirement community in Mountain View sponsored by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Others live in church rectories, the homes of parish priests. Catholic orders like the Society of Jesus provide accommodations for fellow Jesuits.
“Those are all possibilities,” McGrath said. “But I’d like to live in a house so I would have the freedom to help the diocese but not disturb the priests in the rectories.”
McGrath said he looked at various homes both within and beyond the diocese but “they all had some kind of drawback.”
“I looked at places way out in the East Bay, but I like the valley,” McGrath said. “I thought it would be nice to be here, to be of assistance (with the parish) if I can.”
McGrath said he’s not planning to have other clergy as regular housemates, though people to help him cook and clean might come and stay.