Most people think of a monastery as a place of seclusion where pious monks sit all day in silent prayer or make wine and other products to sell. Holy Name Monastery, home to the Benedictine Sisters in St. Leo, Florida is very different.
The community of fourteen professed Sisters and several oblates (people living a religious life, but not having taken vows) are dedicated to working in ministries that serve people and further the Gospel message. The monastery is also open to the public for retreats where you can rest, meditate, enjoy the outdoors and partake in home-cooked meals. Because the convent is adjacent to the campus of St. Leo University the Sisters and their guests have access to all types of cultural and educational opportunities.
Recently, the monastery added a new wing to its facility designed by the architectural firm of Klar and Klar. This 4,000 square foot addition, which includes ten bedrooms, will house guests.
“We are proud to help the Benedictine Sisters of Florida fulfill their mission to serve both the local community and the community of God,” says Roberta Klar, Co-Principal of Klar and Klar Architects. “This addition is the culmination of a relationship that came to life through a mutual commitment to supporting those in need.”
Both the exterior and interior have a modern feel and is energy-efficient to save on costs and protect the environment. Yet, the facility blends into the natural surroundings.
The new wing also helped to update the original monastery that was built in the 1950’s. That facility housed sixty-five nuns at one time but became too large and expensive to operate for the smaller number of sisters that inhabit it today.
Prior to completing the new wing, Klar and Klar finished the design of the main monastery in the fall of 2014. This design included a light-filled chapel, administration office, community dining and living areas and twenty private bedrooms. The living areas and exterior porches constitute 15,700 square feet. Soon after moving into their new home, the Sisters installed a hydroponic garden that raises fish and vegetables together.
The Benedictine Sisters extend their ministry beyond the spiritual. For example, they provide a Thanksgiving meal every year which feeds more than two hundred people. In addition, they have been instrumental in local schools and have served on various boards including Sunrise Spouse Abuse Shelter, Saint Leo University Haitian Mission Project, Florida Association for the Education of Young Children, Catholic Charities, Coalition for the Homeless, Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, and DayStar Hope Thrift Store and Food Pantry.
This small group of dedicated women exemplify the mission of Jesus Christ in Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
For more information about Holy Name Monastery and the Benedictine Sisters call (352) 588-8320 or go to http://benedictinesistersoffl.org/. You can also follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BenedictineSistersofFlorida/
For more information on Klar and Klar Architects visit their webpage http://www.klarklar.com/