Mario Joseph, brother of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, is today’s Around Atlanta guest on Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. Brother Mario is featured on this week’s show to discuss his life as one of the 35 monks in the Trappist order, and how their monastery promotes a serene, God-centered lifestyle.
Brother Mario was born in upstate New York, and spent most of his childhood outside of Washington D.C. He held a career in banking and pharmaceuticals for 15 years before going into academia; first in Turkey, then in South Carolina. After 30 years in industry and academia, Brother Mario decided to dedicate his life specifically to God by joining the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. When asked how he made the decision to go from academia to the monastery, Brother Mario responds with the question, “Have you ever been in love?” When the person being questioned responds positively, Brother Mario says that he fell in love with God and wanted to be with him day and night. The monastery allowed him to do that.
The Trappist order that Brother Mario is a part of is a 900-year-old order that dedicates itself to prayer and simple work. The monastery is located on 2,800 acres of land; making up one of the largest green spaces in the greater Atlanta area. Most of the area is open to the public with hiking, biking and walking trails, picnic spaces, a store, museum and church. The church, in fact, is the largest hand-poured cement gothic structure in the entire world. In addition to the church, the monastery has a store that offers food made in the bakery. This includes items made by people in third world countries, delectable fudge and their infamous fruit cake that can’t seem to stay on the shelves.
Brother Mario describes a typical day as a monk by saying that he gets up at three o’clock every morning for the 4 a.m. prayer service. There are also prayer services at 7 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 5:20 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. at which the public is invited to attend. Brother Mario says, “We think that we ourselves need prayer and, as well, the world needs it.”
Visitors to the monastery will be able to see grounds that aren’t normally open to the public during the 6th annual “Cross Country” 5K walk/run on June 13 beginning at 8 a.m. This 5k will be run on their trails that contribute to a path network, which is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. The current network spans 12 miles, but will eventually connect to Birmingham, Alabama. The cost is $25 for the 5K or $20 for the 1.5-mile fun-run. Children 10 and under can participate in the fun-run for free.
In addition to serene paths, the monastery offers occasions to learn about bonsai gardening, and the opportunity to go on retreats on the premises. These retreats are themed around topics such as forgiveness, contemplative prayer and the image of God.
Brother Mario Joseph and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit together promote a lifestyle centered around God. To learn more about this lifestyle, the upcoming 5k or scheduling a retreat, visit www.trappist.net or call the Abbey store at 770-483-7228.
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