By Brother Callistus
Just 40 minutes east of the hustle and bustle of Atlanta lies a place of peace and tranquility: The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a community of Trappist monks, nestled in 2,300+ acres of woodlands and meadows. Although the monks live a cloistered life of prayer and contemplation, the Monastery welcomes visitors year round, offering opportunities for solitude and reflection for people for all faiths, as well as hiking and biking trails and a glimpse of the monastic life.
The Monastery was founded in 1944 by 21 Trappist monks who departed Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to forge a new community in Georgia’s rural wilderness. They made their first home in an old barn on the former Honey Creek Plantation lands, and together, the intrepid monks built the magnificent Abbey Church – a massive Norman Gothic concrete structure that took 15 years to complete – as well as many of the other buildings that still remain standing.
Today, the Monastery is a community of more than 35 monks spanning several generations, who live, work and pray together in accordance with Saint Benedict’s “Rule for Monks.” The monastic community is wholeheartedly committed to the saint’s motto, Ora et Labora (Pray and Work), supporting themselves “by their own hand,” through the endeavors of a variety of industries:
- Monk-made foods such as fruitcake, fudge, biscotti, coffee and honey;
- The Abbey Store, Georgia’s largest Christian bookstore, offering religious materials as well as a broad selection of gifts and monk-made goods;
- The Bonsai Garden and Nursery, showcasing a wide variety of miniature trees, including several unique species grown and cultivated by the monks;
- The Retreat House, providing guests with a quiet haven for prayer and reflection – either in private contemplation, or through more than 40 themed retreats offered throughout the year;
- A natural ‘green’ burial ground offering respectful and dignified green burials to those who have a special concern for nature and the environment.
In 2011, the historic barn that housed the founding monks became the centerpiece for the new Monastic Heritage Center. Here, guests can learn about the history of the area, follow the history of monasticism through the ages, get a glimpse of the life of a monk and get a bit of refreshment in the Garden Café.
In conformity to their thoughtful stewardship of the land, the monastery is pleased to offer natural burial as a unique alternative to traditional burial. “Honey Creek Woodlands,” the monastery’s conservation natural burial ground, is a peaceful resting place that honors life and the good earth. More information about all the Monastery has to offer can be found at www.trappist.net.
Brother Callistus is the director of Public Relations & Development for the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Visit www.trappist.net or call 678.964.2237 for more information.