Just the other day I was asked by a guest: Do you like being Guest Master?
Another way of asking that is: “Do you love the monastic life?”
The Abbey Guest Master is a visible point of hospitality, but he is little to nothing without the Abbot and community he represents. If there is no praying community here, there is no reason to come to Mount Angel. If our guests encounter no one here striving to live a life of charity, one might as well go elsewhere.
Our vision for the Saint Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center is that of a place of true encounter with Christ. In the newly renovated guesthouse, a gracious spirit of welcome will be physically evident with a parking-level entry that offers a clear sense of arrival to the retreat center. There will be a drop-off area, new lobby, and parking lot turnaround.
After welcoming the guest “with all the courtesy of love,” St. Benedict says in his Rule that we are to “pray together,” and then “the divine law is read to the guest for his instruction.” After that, “every kindness is shown to him.” In other words, feed guests well in body and soul. Provide a clean and safe place to sleep. And welcome them into the heart of the community, into its life of liturgical prayer.
Peace is Christ’s gift to us. The monks of Mount Angel Abbey want our renewed and expanded Guesthouse and Retreat Center to be a place where together we can carry the gift of Christ’s Peace to our families, friends, and to all the world.
Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B.
Mount Angel Abbey
When the Abbey asked if I would agree to write a message on behalf of the campaign for the Saint Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center, I replied that I prefer to keep a low profile. But if it will help their effort to renovate their aging retreat center, I have to say “yes.”
My wife, Liz, and I became involved with the monks at Mount Angel Abbey about eight years ago. Since then, our main mission has been fundraising and providing direction for new initiatives at the Abbey.
Over these years, I have come to admire the monks and their Benedictine spirituality. Each monk is unique and has his own reasons for having joined the monastery, but the thing they have in common is an attraction to a prayerful life. Prayer is the glue that makes them a spiritual community.
They have a beautiful church where they gather five times a day to pray, in addition to daily Mass. They operate a seminary dedicated to the formation of priests, a world-class library, and a guesthouse focused on spiritual retreats.
Most of the facilities at the Abbey are adequate for their intended purpose, except the guesthouse and retreat center. Yet, it is needed now, more than ever, as a place of spiritual respite for Catholics, non-Catholics, clergy, and lay people. That’s why the monks have embraced the mission to transform the building.
My dear sweet wife, Liz, had a deep devotion to Mary and the rosary. She died in 2016. She would be most pleased that the renovated and expanded guesthouse will have a rosary garden with a Visitation statue (shown at right, in an architect’s rendering) and quiet corners for prayer and reflection.
At the time of this writing, fall of 2017, we have received gifts and pledges for about $8 million dollars. The total cost is estimated to come close to $15 million. My focus as a primary fundraiser is to determine how we can raise another $7 million. We are all praying the Holy Spirit will inspire the hearts of Mount Angel Abbey’s friends and supporters to complete the funding.
Please join us in prayer for this important initiative. If you have the means – or if you can influence others who have the means – consider helping with this campaign. With our help, the monks can provide a welcoming place of refuge, free of distractions, where all can encounter God and find joy, happiness, and inner peace.
Abbey Foundation of Oregon Trustee
Campaign Update – Since writing this letter in the fall of 2017, here is where we are at today: We have gratefully received gifts and pledges that cover 92% of the total cost, with $1.4 million to go! If you would like to help, please see our Guesthouse Campaign page.