Behind the scenes: Festival offers guests insight to Mount Angel Abbey life

July 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Brother Cyril Drnjevic, OSB of Mount Angel Abbey.

Brother Cyril Drnjevic, OSB of Mount Angel Abbey.

By Kristine Thomas

It is a well-known fact the monks at the Mount Angel Abbey have a quiet, spiritual side.

But how many people know the monks enjoy playing bocce ball, badminton and croquet; can create gourmet meals, love to hike or enjoy sharing the Abbey’s history?

If you have a curiosity about a monk’s life or the Mount Angel Abbey, attending the first St. Benedict Festival on July 11 is your chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at Abbey life while meeting many of the hilltop residents.

“Who gets to know the monks other than just watching them pray,” Abby novice master Faster Odo Recker, OSB, said. “That’s the deal. They’ll get a look at life in the monastery and have access to places on the abbey they normally would not. If they have any curiosity about monks or Mount Angel Abbey, this is the event.”

Mount Angel Abbey was founded in 1882 by the first Benedictine monks on the West Coast. Today, about 50 monks follow a practical, prayer-centered life following their sixth-century founder, St. Benedict.

Brother Cyril Drnjevic, OSB, said St. Benedict Festival will replace the art and wine festival. The new event, he said, gives guests and the brothers an opportunity to interact, while also allowing them to share their talents and interests. Monks will be leading the tours of Abbey; talking about and pouring the Benedictine Brewery beers, and playing lawn games with visitors.

“We believe the way to lead people to Christ is by person-to-person,” Brother Cyril said. “We want people to see us as real people and find out who we are.”

The monks normally live a fairly secluded life. The St. Benedict Festival allows them to share with visitors the things that are important to them.

St. Benedict Festival
Saturday, July 11, noon to 5 p.m.
Activities include catered picnic,
a chef cook-off, Oregon wines, beer
from the Abbey’s own Benedictine Brewery,
lawn games with the monks, behind-the-scenes
hilltop tours, and an opportunity to attend
noon prayers and 4 p.m. Vespers. Auction
tickets: $40. This is an adults-only event.

Information: MountAngelAbbey.org
or 503-845-3064. Proceeds will support
the library, guest house and monastery.

All the auction items feature the winners participating in an activity with one of the monks. For example, Fathers Odo and Ralph Recker, OSB, will prepare a seven-course Italian feast for 10 guests. Father Odo will prepare his special spaghetti carbonara di Carlo, inspired from his studies in Italy. Or, if bidders prefer something Irish, Father Paul Farrelly, OSB, will prepare a proper Irish tea for four guests.

Other auction items include a hike to Opal Creek with Brother Cyril or a hike to Abiqua Falls starting at the Abbey’s historic Milk Ranch with Brother Andre Love, OSB.

There’s a private wine tasting with Father Alexander Plasker, OSB; a concert by Father Teresio Caldwell; a historic tour with Brother Simon Hepner and fishing weekend with Les and Nancy Fahey and special guest Abbott Peter Eberle.

Brother Cyril said a highlight at the festival will be a friendly competition among five local chefs from Bon Appetit. The chefs will create and serve gourmet picnic fare inspired by Benedictine monasteries in Mexico, Japan, Italy, India and Switzerland.

He said the new festival gives the monks a chance to really share what life on the hill is like and provide guests with tours of the library, guest house, quirky museum and monastery collection. Guests can also join the monks as they chant at noon prayer and 4 p.m. Vespers in the Abbey Church.

Acknowledging most monks are a little introverted, Brother Cyril said many people know and love the seminary for the work it does in the community and beyond.

“The festival is a chance for people to get to know and love us as a monastery,” he said.

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