SAINT CELEBRATED — The Mount Angel Abbey Benedictines and guests conclude the annual St. Benedict Festival with a procession carrying a new statue of the saint to the abbey church for a blessing. The statue is now in the renovated guesthouse. More than 1,000 people attended the festival. (Courtesy Mount Angel Abbey)
SAINT CELEBRATED — The Mount Angel Abbey Benedictines and guests conclude the annual St. Benedict Festival with a procession carrying a new statue of the saint to the abbey church for a blessing. The statue is now in the renovated guesthouse. More than 1,000 people attended the festival. (Courtesy Mount Angel Abbey)
ST. BENEDICT — Feast. Pray. Meet the monks. That was the guiding theme for the fifth annual St. Benedict Festival at Mount Angel Abbey July 13.

Fasting and prayer gave way to feasting and prayer as more than 1,000 of the abbey’s friends and supporters made their way to the hilltop to celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, who helped found monasticism 1,500 year ago.

Guests and monks enjoyed food, drink, music, tours, games and, especially, camaraderie.

Mount Angel residents Kathy Wall and Mary Grant were eyeing the strawberry shortcake when they stopped to give their impressions of the festival.

“I love the way the monks mingle and are out here with everyone,” Wall said. “They are so friendly, so welcoming, so warm. I love it.”

“Everybody needs to socialize,” Grant added. “We need to socialize with them. They’re not just strange guys dressed in black on top of the hill. They are normal, nice people who like to have fun.”

Trent Sislow, who entered the monastic community as a postulant in March, hosted lawn game competitions during the festival. A self-described introvert, Sislow said after the socializing ended he would probably need to spend quiet time with a book in his room. But he was having fun with the guests who stopped by to try their skill, and said he was glad to be a part of the festivities.

“This festival is a real full-blown hospitality experience,” Sislow said. “It’s great to have all these people here to experience a little bit of our monastic life. ... We’re here so we can share with all these people. We have such a great community here; it kind of makes it easy.”

One of the tours offered at the festival was of the newly renovated St. Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center. Father Pius X Harding, guestmaster, led large groups through the building.

Bob and Char Wendling of Oregon City and Mike and Mamie Dec of Milwaukie lingered in front of the Last Supper sculpture in the guesthouse dining room. The impressive piece was done by Tomasz Misztal, a Polish artist who now resides in Oregon. Mamie Dec, who knows Misztal, pointed out details and shared insights about his work.

As the last guesthouse tour ended, it was nearly time to join the liturgical procession with the monks leading everyone into the church to bless the new St. Benedict statue and pray vespers.

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mountangelabbey.org