Going on Faith

AUG-SEP 2016

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 33 MONASTERY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONYERS, GEORGIA The Cistercian monks, better known as the Trappists, at Monastery of the Holy Spirit live in a cloistered community, but that doesn't mean the monastery is closed to visitors. Quite the opposite: The monastery built a visitor center for the 80,000- plus visitors it receives every year, said Brother Callistus. Although guests may not see many monks in the public areas during a day visit or an overnight retreat, they can worship, sing and pray with them several times a day at the Abbey Church. The 17,000-square-foot Heritage Center opened in 2011 and houses the visitor center, a historic barn and the Refectory Café, as well as the Abbey Garden Center, where guests can see the bonsai collection, and the Abbey Gift Shop, where they can buy some of the monks' handiwork, which includes fudge, fruitcakes, cookies and stained-glass pieces. There's also a courtyard, a memorial plaza and a prayer walk. When visitors first arrive, they watch a 20-minute video "of what it's all about that puts it all in context," Callistus said, and can also explore interactive exhibits and displays. Groups of up to 100 people can also use the center's conference room. "It's a place for many folks, especially faith-based groups of all denominations," Callistus said. The monastery's retreat house can accommodate up to 40 people for overnight stays. Private, guided group retreats can be arranged to focus on topics such as prayer, Scripture, spirituality and meditation. Much of the monastery's 2,300 acres is protected by conservation easements, but guests can picnic by a lake, read a book under a tree and explore nature trails, including the paved hiking-biking Rockdale River Trail, which starts at the monas- tery entrance and wends through the woods to the bridge over the South River. Visitors can also stroll through one of the monastery's most popular offerings: Honey Creek Woodlands, a natural burial ground. www.trappist.net HOLY WISDOM MONASTERY MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN The Rule of Benedict states, "All guests who present themselves are to be wel- comed as Christ." At Holy Wisdom Monastery, home of the Benedictine Women of Madison, the motto is "All are welcome" — regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. "One of the most important aspects of the Holy Wisdom Monastery are the Benedictine values we work and live by while we're here," said Amanda Conway, guest services coordinator. Those values include hospitality, community, stewardship and service, among others. The monastery sits on 130 acres in Middleton, Wisconsin, directly across Lake Mendota from Madison. There, the sisters have worked to restore prairie land, dredged a lake to create wildlife habitat and built nature trails — they have four ranging from 0.2 miles to two miles. And they will add more trails in 2018 to provide more access to the property's wooded areas. Two main buildings are available to guests. When the monastery was completed in 2009, it was the greenest building in the nation; it is completely powered by solar energy. The Retreat and Guest House is a converted former women's school dormitory that can now accommodate 25 overnight guests. The two buildings have a variety of meeting rooms and event spaces, the largest of which is the monastery's 4,400-square-foot light-filled assembly room for up to 300 people; in addition, the guest dining room can seat 150. The retreat house's 1,480-square-foot Garden Room is connected to a private garden area for attend- ees to use. The monastery also provides meals, and the sisters can arrange both spiritual and environmental programs for visiting groups. www.benedictinewomen.org Holy Wisdom Monastery in Wisconsin offers a variety of indoor meting spaces and outdoor walking paths. Courtesy Holy Wisdom Monastery Courtesy Holy Wisdom Monastery individual and group tours. Groups that come for day visits or meetings at the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center usually want the entire tour, Damiano said, which includes the shrine, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the White Violet Center. The shrine is sort of a mini museum. Visitors make their way through several rooms with exhibits and artifacts to tell the story of St. Guerin, a French-American who founded the order in 1840 as well as many schools. The shrine's chapel houses St. Guerin's remains. From the laying of the cornerstone in 1886 to its consecration in 1907, the ornate limestone church took more than 20 years to complete. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel features an 8,000-pound altar carved from a single piece of marble. At the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, visitors can volunteer, attend educational workshops, take cooking classes and meet the sisters' herd of alpacas. The community can accommodate up to 400 people for daylong meetings or conferences. In the conference center, groups of 400 can use the O'Shaughnessy Dining Room with its tall, arched windows and barrel-vaulted ceiling, the site of the community's weekly Sunday brunch buffet that's open to the public. The center also has a 1,100-square-foot conference room, a lobby area and a nearby 500-square-foot cabinlike lodge. For overnight stays, the guesthouse can host 18 people in private rooms or three small, lakefront hermitages that are made of recycled, sustainable materials. www.spsmw.org

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