Saint Leo University, Benedictine Sisters of Florida Announce Property Purchase

October 08, 2012

Stepping Up for Tampa Bay During the Republican National ConventionSaint Leo University and the Benedictine Sisters of Florida formally announced on Wednesday, October 3 that Saint Leo University has purchased the Holy Name Monastery, along with some property the Sisters also owned across State Road 52. The purchase will help Saint Leo accommodate the ongoing growth at University Campus.

Conversations about this idea began months ago and concluded with this mutually beneficial agreement. The monastery parcel is directly adjacent to the west end of Saint Leo University’s campus, and its addition will permit expansion to accommodate enrollment growth. The acreage comprising the purchase also includes parcels on the south side of State Road 52, directly across the highway from the monastery. The Benedictine Sisters of Florida will construct a new monastery on 40 acres they still own on the south side of State Road 52 at Wichers Road.

The building project is expected to take about two years and will include a fund-raising effort. Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees of Saint Leo University will begin considering how best to incorporate the new holdings as part of the update of the master plan for University Campus. Saint Leo already owned 186 acres at University Campus prior to this transaction, and has steadily enhanced and improved the campus in the last few years.

“This is a historic day for the Benedictine Sisters!,” said Sister Roberta Bailey, O.S.B., the prioress of Holy Name Monastery. “It is the result of five years of prayerful discernment, on-going consultation with our advisors at Zielinski Companies and many conversations with the administration at Saint Leo University. The current monastery building is actually our second home in our 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. 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.”

Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of Saint Leo University, expressed gratitude for the ongoing relationship with the Benedictine Sisters. “We have been so blessed to have the Sisters’ involvement in Saint Leo since our founding as the first Catholic college in Florida,” Dr. Kirk said. “Now the Sisters’ work will continue, they will live nearby, 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––nor does it affect––Saint Leo Abbey Church, or Saint Leo Abbey, which are both owned by the Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo. The Benedictine Sisters and Benedictine Monks, while sharing the same faith, are legally separate entities, each with its own property rights and governance.

Both communities have been integral to the founding of Saint Leo University. Even though the university is now an independent institution, the six core values that guide university life are drawn from the Benedictine tradition, which emphasizes a life of prayer, work, community, scholasticism, and hospitality, among many other virtues.