Abbey youth fest 2016 update
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It was with great reluctance and regret that Saint Joseph Abbey + Seminary College decided last Thursday to cancel the Abbey Youth Festival. It was a heartbreak for the whole community, especially for the AYF Team that had spent an entire school year planning and preparing for your arrival. But less than 24 hours later, the Lord showed us clearly how mercifully prudent our discernment was. Today the same community looks out over a campus that has been devastated by flood waters that by 4:00 p.m. on Friday had reached up to two feet in every building. No area of the Abbey or the Seminary College was left untouched by this historic flood, the first to flood the buildings since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1926-1927. Even the Abbey Youth Festival field, which is a high and well-drained site, was covered by 12 inches of water.
Many people have contacted us asking how they can help Saint Joseph Abbey + Seminary College recover from the damage done by the flooding. Crews are currently working to assess the damage to each building, and the cost will reach into the millions. It will take many weeks and months to execute a full recovery. But we are grateful: for our lives, for our monks and seminarians, and for all of the teens, youth ministers and priests who were spared great danger by avoiding this natural disaster.
For 16 years, the monks and seminarians have opened their hearts and home to receive thousands upon thousands of teens to the Abbey Youth Festival, offering them the grace of the sacraments and the gospel of salvation. This year they could not receive you. But the teens who had hoped to be there this year have a greater opportunity than any other group in AYF history. Those who were going to be ministered to can now be the ones doing the ministering. Those who planned to come to receive mercy can now bestow mercy. YOU can be the group that saved Abbey Youth Festival through your generosity, and made sure that it was there for generations to come. "For the measure that you measure with will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)
The cancellation of AYF this year is one disappointment among many. Much patience, hard work and generosity will be required to restore our beloved Abbey, a historic and important center of worship, education, and formation for our region. In sixteen years we are fortunate that we have never had to cancel or postpone AYF before. We are in unchartered territory doing so.
As part of the registration process for AYF each year, groups such as yours either pay their registration in advance or plan to pay their fees when they arrive on site the day of the festival. We know that raising funds for an event like AYF is often difficult for lower-income parishes and participants. In light of this, we feel especially responsible to offer as much of a refund as possible to each group that has pre-paid. However, AYF is an increasingly costly event to put on. The budget for this year’s event was approximately $180,000. Without assistance all of those monies will be lost. Your registration dollars are precisely the funds used to cover the event expenses.
Thank you in advance for your generosity and prayerful discernment concerning your support of the Abbey Youth Festival and Saint Joseph Abbey + Seminary College. It is amongst our deepest desires to serve you well, and well into the future. We are especially grateful to the youth groups and institutions who have already pledged their registration dollars to the Abbey as a means of supporting our recovery. The faithfulness, kindness, generosity, and passion of the youth never ceases to amaze us. Our warmest regards and thanks goes out to each and every one of you.
-The AYF Team