Fran­cis­can study cen­tre on sale for £3.5m

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Front Page -

A re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre in Can­ter­bury has gone on the mar­ket with a price tag of £3.5 mil­lion.

The Fran­cis­can In­ter­na­tional Study Cen­tre has been put up for sale fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion to close it at the end of June.

The three-acre site in Giles Lane was built in the 1970s and later ex­tended, with 60 peo­ple from all over the world study­ing there at its peak.

But prin­ci­pal Fr Thomas Reist, who has led the cen­tre for the past five years, says fall­ing en­rol­ment has forced the trustees to sell up, with no stu­dents reg­is­tered.

He said: “Peo­ple came here to learn about the Fran­cis­can way of life, which is a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the beauty of cre­ation and a sim­ple life­style fo­cused on God. They took that back to their own coun­tries and have opened schools there.

“That has meant that, over the years, the num­bers trav­el­ling from abroad to us has con­tin­ued to fall.”

Fran­cis­cans are a re­li­gious or­der within the Catholic church, founded in 1209 by Fran­cis of As­sisi.

The Can­ter­bury cen­tre, which is not part of the Univer­sity of Kent cam­pus, is the only one of its kind in the coun­try.

The com­plex in­cludes a main build­ing of over 15,000 sq ft, host­ing a li­brary, of­fices and meet­ing rooms, a com­mon room, re­fec­tory and kitchen.

There are also five res­i­den­tial blocks pro­vid­ing 43 bed­rooms, most with en suite, mak­ing the site ideal for stu­dent ac­co­mo­da­tion. Fr Thomas said: “The de­ci­sion to sell has not been taken lightly, but with a heavy heart, be­cause the cen­tre has en­joyed a vi­brant life.”

The free­hold is be­ing sold through Can­ter­bury-based firm BTF Part­ner­ship.

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