October 21, 2005

Saint Meinrad Archabbey dedicates
new guest house

By Sean Gallagher

On Oct. 8, the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad and approximately 250 guests celebrated the dedication of the new Archabbey Guest House and Retreat Center.

The $6.1 million facility includes 30 guest rooms, two conference rooms, a chapel and two dining rooms that allow for quiet meals for those on silent retreats.

Benedictine Archabbot Justin DuVall spoke to those gathered for the event and placed the dedication in the context of Saint Meinrad’s history of hospitality.

“For 150 years, this monastic community has been receiving guests as Christ in southern Indiana,” he said. “From our earliest years, we have provided a place of quiet and retreat for those who seek refuge from the busyness of their lives.”

Benedictine Father Vincent Tobin, the manager of the new guest house, looked even further back in the history of monasticism for the purpose of the guest house, saying in a recent interview that it is a continuation of the “ancient monastic tradition of hospitality.”

The late Virginia Basso of Indianapolis received Benedictine hospitality at Saint Meinrad in the past and helped make possible the construction of the new guest house.

Over half the funds used to construct the new guest house were donated by Basso, who died in 2003. Last year, Saint Meinrad Archabbey received a bequest of more than $13 million from her estate.

Father Vincent sees in her making possible the new facility her desire to pass on the tradition of Benedictine hospitality to others.

“She found something here that spoke to her heart and she wanted other people to find that possibility here too,” he said.

The new Archabbey Guest House and Retreat Center is dedicated to Basso.

The construction of the facility is the first building project of Saint Meinrad’s ongoing capital campaign, “The Call of Saint Meinrad: Seeking God and Serving the Church.” It is also the first new building constructed in more than 20 years on the grounds of the southern Indiana religious community.

Although the new guest house includes only a small increase in the number of guestrooms from the facility it replaces, it is more handicap accessible, features a landscaped courtyard and has many up-to-date features, including new audio-visual equipment.

Father Vincent said that it is not new ideas or equipment that drive the ministry that will happen at the Archabbey Guest House and Retreat Center, but the wisdom of St. Benedict, who, in his sixth-century Rule, taught that “all guests … are to be welcomed as Christ.”

“That’s the brilliance of the Rule, as it goes back to the ancient monastic tradition,” Father Vincent said. “The basic idea is to come and pray with us, and together we’ll find our God.” †

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