A new monastery is planned, too
Compiled by B.C. Manion
The Benedictine Sisters of Florida have sold 37 acres of land to Saint Leo University (SLU), including the site of the Holy Name Monastery on SR 52 directly west of the school.
SLU’s purchase includes parcels on the south side of SR 52 directly across from the monastery. The land allows the university to accommodate enrollment growth.
The Benedictines decided to leave the monastery and build a smaller one for the community of 16 sisters. Their new home will be a single-story building on 40 acres they still own on the south side of SR 52 at Wichers Road.
The university and the sisters announced their plans during a news conference Oct. 3.
The sisters intend to remain in the existing 100,000-square-foot monastery until their new 28,000-square-foot home is built. That is expected to be completed within two years and will include a fundraising effort.
“This is a historic day for the Benedictine Sisters,” Sister Roberta Bailey, the prioress of Holy Name Monastery, said in a release. “It is the result of five years of prayerful discernment, ongoing consultation with our advisors at Zielinski Companies and many conversations with the administration at Saint Leo University.”
The sisters noted that their current home is no longer suitable “because of its challenging layout characteristics.
“The 100,000-square-foot, multi-floor concrete structure is simply too large and expensive to operate and renovate,” the release states. “The building’s narrow corridors, low ceilings and nonhandicap accessible bathrooms are obsolete and cannot be easily renovated for our sisters’ needs. In addition, the elevator is old and costly each time it needs to be repaired, and the infrastructure (boilers, ventilation, etc.) and life safety systems are obsolete or need to be replaced.”
Bailey noted that the monastery, built in 1960, was the sisters’ second home during their 123-year history in East Pasco County.
“We plant our roots deep and feel blessed that we can transplant ourselves across the street here near the university and in our hometown of Saint Leo,” Bailey said. “We are pleased that the land will remain in the family and continue to be used for educational ministries that uphold the same Benedictine values that the sisters espouse.”
The sisters will celebrate their 125th anniversary Feb. 24, 2014. The order is embarking on a special gifts campaign to help fund the construction of the new monastery.
While the sisters are gearing up for a new building, the university’s board of trustees will consider how best to incorporate the new holdings as part of the campus’ updated master plan.
Arthur F. Kirk Jr., president of SLU, expressed gratitude for the ongoing relationship with the sisters.
“We have been so blessed to have the sisters’ involvement in Saint Leo since our founding as the first Catholic college in Florida,” Kirk said in a release. “Now the sisters’ work will continue, they will live nearby, their presence will continue to enrich our university, and they will be able to see on a daily basis how the addition of this parcel enhances our educational mission.”
The university notes that this purchase does not include or affect Saint Leo Abbey Church or Saint Leo Abbey, which are owned by the Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo. The sisters and monks, while sharing the same faith, are legally separate entities.
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