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 | Katie Camario and Keishla Espinal

Saint Leo Abbey, a Solid Foundation of Faith for 75 Years

January 31, 2023 | Known as the church that orange juice built, Saint Leo University Abbey Church celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 29th.

“In order to save money, Saint Leo traded boxes of its ‘Abbey Brand’ oranges and grapefruit from its citrus groves to Saint Meinrad Abbey [Archabbey] of Indiana, which operated a sandstone quarry,” states Pioneer College: The Centennial History of Saint Leo College, Saint Leo Abbey, and Holy Name Priory, by James J. Horgan.

The Abbey was founded in 1889 but the church wasn’t built and consecrated until January 29, 1948. Construction began on August 15, 1936, but was often delayed because of the war and the need to raise funds. Today, it’s home to a community of monks that follows the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Bishop Elias Lorenzo, OSB of the Archdiocese of Newark celebrated the Anniversary Mass alongside Bishop Gregory Parkes and Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB.

“Today we recall the dedication of this Abbey Church to the Glory of God in 1948,” said Bishop Lorenzo  during his homily. Bishop Lorenzo previously served as Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation, which includes 25 monasteries and 23 schools throughout the world. He also served as president of the International Commission on Benedictine Education.

“The generosity and sacrifice have been blessed by God by the continued growth of the university to this day, making it among the largest in the association of Benedictine colleges and universities in North America," said Bishop Lorenzo.

Bishop Lorenzo, OSB said, “On this milestone anniversary, be assured of my very best wishes and prayers for all the oblates, family, and friends of Saint Leo Abbey and University. You stand on a solid foundation of faith, of generous and dedicated monks who have gone before us and paved the way for life and growth so that you may truly be a dwelling place of God in the spirit.”

During the celebration, Abbot Camacho presented Bishop Parkes with a new mitre, in appreciation for his visit to the Abbey Church for this special occasion. A reception with refreshments followed the 75th anniversary Mass.

To learn more about the historic Abbey and how you can take a self-guided tour visit:

Photos of the 75th anniversary Mass which took place January 29th, and archival photos of the Abbey. Photos courtesy Saint Leo Abbey.