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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Ground broken for monastery

ST LEO — The Benedictine Sisters of the Holy Name Monastery in St. Leo broke ground Thursday on the property where their new home will be built.

More than 100 friends and supporters gathered for the shovel-turning ceremony that took place on the site of the chapel that will be part of the new monastery building. The new monastery will be located directly across State Road 52 from the current building.

“Today is an extra special day for the Benedictine Sisters of Florida,” Holy Name Prioress Roberta Bailey said. “Only six of the 16 members in the present community were around in 1960 for the groundbreaking for the building we now rent from St. Leo University.”

Bailey told the crowd of the origins of the Benedictine Sisters established in 1889 when five Benedictine sisters from Pittsburgh, Pa. came to east Pasco County at a pastoral request.

“Our founding sisters were risk-takers,” she said to the laughter of the crowd. “They had been told in so many words, ‘Don’t come back if it doesn’t work out in that mission land down south.’ ”

“The current Holy Name Monastery replaced the wood frame building that had been home for the sisters since their arrival in 1889,” she said. “And here we are today; standing on freshly churned up ground preparing to erect a new monastery.”

The sisters sold the current building, along with five other buildings and 29 acres of land to Saint Leo University for $3.9 million for expansion of the university’s programs and living facilities. The monastery is no longer suitable to the monastic community because of its size, layout and maintenance costs. The sisters are paying $1 per year to rent their old home until they move.

After a word of prayer, Abbot Issac Camacho and the Rev. Stephen Brown sprinkled Holy Water on the property.

When the blessing was accomplished, the sisters took a shovelful of dirt and threw it into the air to shouts of celebration.

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