Holy Trinity Monestary – Saint David

The Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David, AZ has a festival coming up on the second weekend of November. The festivals always have the unusual things that may work for the hard to by for Christmas Present. If you decide to come to the Festival consider lodging with us at the Southeastern Arizona B & B, Down By The River B and B.  I am also going to give a little background about the monastery and how it came to be located in St. David, AZ.

The Holy Trinity Monastery at St. David, Arizona was founded on September 3rd, 1974 by Fr. Louis

Lady of Guadalupe Church

The Church at the Monastery is built in the shape of a cross

Hasenfuss, O.S.B.  A priest of the Diocese of Tucson, Fr. Clark Moore, was running a children’s residential program on the 92-acre property.  When he was unable to meet the mortgage payments, he suggested to Fr. Louis, who was in Tucson giving a retreat, that the Benedictines establish a retreat center.  When Fr. Louis returned to his monastery at Pecos, New Mexico, he presented the idea.  Abbot David Geraets approved, and Fr. Louis arrived with two associates, Maxine and Larry Lee and Marty Martinez to begin a new monastery.  Ground was broken for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on December 12th, 1974, and Bishop Green presided over its dedication on June 24th, 1981.

Besides providing facilities for retreats, the Monastery has built a library of 70,000 volumes, not all of which are cataloged. In keeping with the tradition of the Benedictine Monks, the property also has a museum.  Check with the Monastery for times that the facilities are open. An RV park is used for the vehicles brought by winter volunteers who are instrumental in helping the community.

Holy Trinity Monastery is affiliated with the Olivetan Benedictines of Monte Oliveto in Italy. It is unique because it includes lay people in addition to the monks.  Residential oblates choose to live, pray and work in community with the monks, and live in their own manufactured homes on the grounds. The monastery’s mission is not restricted to the local area. Fr. Henri Capdeville, the current Prior, also ministers to and works with oblate groups in San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX.  He came to the community in 1976, became a monk in 1979, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1993.

The Monastery now consists of 150 acres, and has been built up over the years mainly by volunteer labor.  The site includes the church, monks’ cloister, offices, dining areas, bookstore/gift shop, bakery, pecan orchard, gardens, ponds, and cemetery.  With the help of the Bureau of Land Management, a 1.3 mile bird sanctuary trail was dedicated in 1992.  The San Pedro National Resource Conservation District presented the monastery the “Conservation Cooperator of the Year” award in 1993 for the trail, which runs along the San Pedro River.  Many bird-watching groups are often on site when the community arrives at church for morning prayers.

Festival Picture

The festival in Spring and Autumn attract many people to view the things that vendors have on display at their booths.

The Monastery is self-supporting, utilizing multiple fundraising projects. During the year, there are various group retreats booked on weekends, as well as longer individual stays.  These are a source of income, but it doesn’t stop there.  Other sources of funding come from the Monte Cassino RV Park, sales of pecans, breads and pies; the gift shop, Benedict’s Closet thrift store, mass stipends and general donations.  Two large arts and crafts festivals are hosted in the Spring, the second weekend of May (Mother’s Day), and in the Fall, the second weekend of November (just in time for Christmas!) A monthly e-mail newsletter, The Holy Herald, is published by the Monastery and sent to readers.

In the late 1970’s, Fr. Henri came up with the festival idea.  It started as a carnival type activity, with quarter and half-dollar games.  Over the years, it has turned into a vendor show with up to 150 artisans selling handmade crafts.   The festivals also provide local entertainment, which usually includes the Phoenix Tongan Catholic Community. The dining room serves an ever-popular BBQ plate, but other food venues are available as well.

The festival events are staffed by volunteers from the Knights of Columbus who work at the entrance, a Police Explorer Troop which manages parking, the Sheriff’s Assist Team is also on hand, along with the St. David Fire Department and local Ambulance Service.  Numerous other volunteers help with the food prep, dining room, raffles, and general operations.  Fr. Henri stated “Without the wonderful people who give their time and efforts, the Monastery would be hard pressed to be able to meet its goals.”  The festivals have fallen on hard times recently, due to the lagging economy, but better times appear to be around the corner since the last Spring Festival was an improvement over the year before.  The Monastery is located on Arizona Highway 80 between mileposts 302 and 303.  The address is PO Box 298, St. David, AZ 85630.  A committee now runs the planning for the festivals, and if you are inclined to help out, you are encouraged to call (520) 265-2827 and leave a message.

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