Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Conyers Festival To Feature Ecological Lecture Series

Published September 13, 2012

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The Monastery of the Holy Spirit will hold its fall festival on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the monastery grounds.
All are invited to the festivities, which will have activities for all ages, including hayrides, a petting zoo and pony rides, a marketplace, organic farm produce, and tours of the Gothic Abbey Church. New to this year’s activities are a health fair and a lecture series focused on environmental issues.

With the help of a team of medical professionals, the health fair will offer a variety of screenings, free of charge and open to all. Screenings include vision, dental, dermatological, bone health, foot, depression, blood pressure, blood work, chiropractic, and more. Massage therapists and medical consultants will be on hand.

“The Good Earth” lectures will highlight the rich natural diversity and ecology of the 2,300 acres of land on the monastery property. The monks have a tradition of responsible land-stewardship and are dedicated to preserving wetlands and riparian habitats. They have identified more than 100 species of trees, 300 plus species of wildflowers, more than 200 types of birds, 89 types of butterflies, and 52 different species of dragonflies on the monastery lands.

Each of the scheduled talks will last approximately 50 minutes, with time for questions.

At 10 a.m., Abbot Francis Michael Stiteler, OCSO, will discuss “The Importance of Butterflies and Dragonflies to the Ecosystem,” followed by a nature walk. He has lived at the monastery since 1974 and is a self-trained expert on birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, having photographed and identified all of those species on the monastery land.

At noon, Father Anthony Delisi, OCSO, will discuss the Native American and African-American settlements that once called the land home. A resident of the monastery since 1948, Father Delisi has found many of the arrowheads on the land, some dating back to the Paleo-Indian period (ca. 13,000 BC to 7,900 BC).

At 1:30, Jim Allison, a former state Department of Natural Resources botanist, will discuss “Plant Life of the Monastery: the Beauties—and the Beasts,” followed by a nature walk. Allison is a botanist who has done plant explorations that have taken him to all 159 counties of Georgia and much of the Southeast.

At 3 p.m., Mera Cardenas, the executive director of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance, Inc. will discuss the plans for the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, one of the largest green spaces in the Atlanta area.  The monastery is designated as one of the gateways to the natural resource. Currently more than 20 miles of a multi-use hike and bike trail has been developed in the heritage area, and the section that connects to the monastery is scheduled to be completed in the coming months. The monastery is considered to be the “spiritual gateway” to the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.