‘Everyone is basically self-isolating’ Franciscan Center closes amid concerns for public and elderly nuns


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- The Franciscan Center in Tampa lays quiet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The center’s halls, chapel, and dining room, now resemble a ghost town. 

“You can clearly see that it’s empty,” said Franciscan Center CEO Wendy Leigh. 

The coronavirus has caused the center to shut down until the end of April costing the retreat house thousands of dollars of lost income. 

So far, the Franciscan Center has postponed several major events including their Words To Live By Luncheon and the center’s 50th-anniversary celebration.

“People have been canceling and we decided it was prudent of us to put the safety of our guest first. It has had a huge impact both organizationally and financially and emotionally,” said Leigh. 

Leigh is also considering the health and safety of the elderly nuns who live next to the property at the St. Elizabeth Convent. The nuns are known to spend their spare time at the center. 

“Everyone is basically self-isolating and following the rules. That is what we are trying do, follow the rules, keep everyone safe, healthy and positive so we can all get to the other side of this,” said Leigh. 

Leigh tells 8 On Your Side, in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, she believes the public should rely on their faith over fear during this difficult time.  

“That’s all we can really do.”  

For more information about the Franciscan Center, visit their website.

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