LOS ANGELES — Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, one of two nuns fighting a court ruling involving the sale of a former Los Feliz convent to singer Katy Perry, collapsed and died March 9 during a court hearing in the bankruptcy case of a key figure in the property matter.
“Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, IHM passed away suddenly today at the age of 89,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a statement. “I was sad to hear the news of her passing and I have 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.”
Holzman and Sister Rita Callanan were among five members of the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, and were the only members who opposed the sale of their former home to the 33-year-old “Roar” singer.
Hours before her death, Holzman stated her case to reporters from Fox 11, arguing on behalf of Silver Lake businesswoman Dana Hollister, who filed for bankruptcy March 6 just months after she was ordered in 2017 to collectively pay more than $15 million in damages to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Perry for interfering in the sale.
“We asked [Hollister] to save us, to buy the property. She had nothing to do with forcing herself on us,” Holzman told the station, later adding, “And to Katy Perry, please stop. It’s not doing anyone any good except hurting a lot of people.”
On March 7, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick put on hold all post-trial proceedings involving Hollister, and hearings on Hollister’s March 27 motion for a new trial and a scheduled judgment-debtor examination were stayed indefinitely. A judgment-debtor examination is a court proceeding created by law where the party who has obtained a judgment in court is entitled to ask questions of the person who owes that judgment.
The judge set a status conference for May 8. Archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan said outside the courtroom that he was surprised by the bankruptcy filing, but added there could be an agreement by the parties later to lift the stay.
The jury deliberated for an entire day on Nov. 17 before reaching its verdict against Hollister for slander of title, interference with contractual relations and interference with prospective economic advantage. The panel awarded the archdiocese $3.47 million in compensatory damages and $1.57 million to Perry.
The jury also found that Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud, triggering the second phase of trial to determine if the archdiocese, the institute and Perry should be awarded punitive damages. The panel awarded another $10 million in December.
Hollister made her purchase of the onetime convent with the cooperation of Callanan and Holzman, who maintained they had the authority to sell the Waverly Drive property to the businesswoman. Judge Bowick later canceled the deal.
The convent has been vacant since 2011 because it became too costly for the retired sisters to maintain and no longer accommodated their physical needs, and the proceeds from any sale of the property would go to the IHM Institute, according to the archdiocese.
After the archdiocese filed the first legal volley against Hollister in June 2015, Perry became part of the litigation when the sisters intervened in the case and named her as a defendant. The singer then filed her own cross-complaint.
The sale to Perry was for $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for a house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese. In contrast, Hollister paid $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note to pay $9.9 million in three years, according to Kirk Dillman, who also represents the archdiocese and the institute.