The monks will be joined by elected officials, benefactors, and friends to signal the start of construction of this building project - another milestone in the history of the 66-year-old Monastery, which attracts 70,000-plus visitors each year.
Featured on the agenda for the ceremony are introductory remarks by Abbot Francis Michael, a welcome address by County CEO and Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden. Also in attendance will be the celebrated Vince Dooley, a long time friend and benefactor of the monastery who will be joined by the city of Conyers Mayor Randy Mills and others offering their personal comments to commemorate this significant event.
The Archbishop of Atlanta Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory and the Bishop of Savannah Most Reverend J. Kevin Boland will also be in attendance sharing their support for the Season of Renewal building project.
The design of the Public Gathering Space and Visitors Center will consist of an open courtyard and four buildings. It will feature the historical elements of monasticism, along with the new Abbey gift store, Bonsai greenhouse, and a café. The completed project will allow for better accommodations of the growing number of visitors, offering a better place of retreat, hospitality, peace, and rest. This venture, the result of a four-year-long planning process, will also help secure the monastic space of silence and solitude as well as pave the way for long-term sustainability.
Activities marking the official kickoff of the construction work will include the signing of the guest book as well as the presentation of the rendered model of the buildings. The ceremony will also consist of the official symbolic shovel-brigade marking the start of the construction project.
During its history, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit has become a destination point for pilgrims and travelers, presently bringing more and more visitors to the monastery each year. This ever increasing number is projected to grow as the Visitors Center will become the terminus for the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area trail. The increase of visitors to the monastery is expected to have a significant economic impact to tourism in Conyers and Rockdale County.