Monday, November 12, 2007

Nuns find place to live, for now


A group of Santa Barbara nuns who have been looking for a place to live since being evicted from their Nopal Street convent by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in August, have been offered temporary refuge by the sisters at St. Mary’s Retreat House, according to Ernie Salomon, a spokesman for the nuns.
Salomon said the details of the offer are not being disclosed and some are pending, but stressed the three nuns that make up the local order of the Sisters of Bethany, will not reside permanently at St. Mary’s Retreat House, which is located next to Mission Santa Barbara.

“The sisters are overjoyed that they have a temporary refuge and that the Sisters of the Holy Nativity have been so generous to offer them a temporary place to live until they find a permanent place,” Salomon said.
While the news that the three displaced nuns will most likely have a place to stay while looking for permanent housing is good news for Salomon and other supporters, it is clouded with an ongoing controversy between the sisters and Denise D’ Sant Angelo, who Salomon says is in possession of at least $3,700 that was donated to the sisters to help them find permanent housing.
Last Thursday the Sisters of Bethany denounced D’ Sant Angelo, who during a recent telephone interview with the Daily Sound, said she had initiated the process of forming a nonprofit called Save our Sisters of Bethany.
But Mack Staton, an attorney with the law firm Mullen & Henzell, who is representing the sisters, said he has not been able to find nonprofit by that name.
Staton sent a letter to D’ Santa Angelo on Nov. 5 asking that she immediately return any donations solicited on the nuns’ behalf to the nuns, and account for any money that may have been spent.
Staton said he was not accusing D’ Sant Angelo of anything, he just wants the money returned.
Attempts to reach D’ Sant Angelo last night were not successful and phone messages were not immediately returned.
This isn’t the first time D’ Sant Angelo has been at the center of a controversy in Santa Barbara.
Last April, she filed a legal claim against the Santa Barbara School Districts, which accused Board of Education member Bob Noel of stealing her idea to create a local charter school.
Noel vehemently denied her claim then and did so again yesterday. District officials with knowledge about the legal claim’s current status could not be reached.
In the legal claim filed in April, D’ Santa Angelo said Noel and the district owed her damages as a result of not being included in the idea for charter school, which ultimately was voted down by the Board of Education.
While Noel admitted to having discussions with D’ Sant Angelo about charter schools after the district dissolved its ROTC program, he said in April that D’ Sant Angelo did not own the idea of a charter school and that she even patented the name Santa Barbara Cadet Academy as her own.
Noel said after D’ Sant Angelo filed the legal claim with the district, she made calls to the State Board of Education and the Public Safety Academy -- the entity which Noel aligned his idea for a charter school with -- insisting that Noel had stolen the idea from her.
“There is no validity to any of her claims and in my opinion she is a chronic complainer,” Noel said in April. “In my opinion she threatens to take people to court and in my opinion is motivated by getting settlements by what I think are false claims.”
In his dealings with D’ Sant Angelo, Noel said yesterday that she turned against him very quickly.
“If what is being said about what the nuns is true,” Noel said. “It’s absolutely unconscionable.”
Salomon said anyone who sent a donation for the nuns to D’ Sant Angelo that has not yet been cashed, should stop payment on the check. If the check has been cashed, he said to contact Staton.
The sisters, who were evicted in late August in order to help the Archdiocese pay a $660 million priest sex abuse settlement, have until Dec. 31 to vacate their convent.
Salomon said donations to help find permanent housing for the nuns is still being accepted and can be sent to:
Sisters of Bethany
215 N. Nopal St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

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