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Woodside Priory Goes "Green" and Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Founders Day

Original post made by Sean Mclain Brown, Portola Valley: other, on Nov 6, 2007

Woodside Priory School Goes "Green" and Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary

What: Woodside Priory's Fiftieth Anniversary
When: November 11, 9:30 a.m. mass followed by a building blessing and light brunch.
Contact: 650-851-8221

In celebration of the Benedictine’s Fiftieth Anniversary on November 11th, the new “Green” Performing Arts Center is open to the public for a mass, building blessing and light brunch. The mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the Priory Chapel.

The Woodside Priory community celebrates on Nov. 11 a special event—the first mass celebrated by Father Egon Javor on behalf of seven Benedictine monks who purchased land in Portola Valley to found a new community and school.

Nestled in Portola Valley among the Redwoods, Woodside Priory’s new “Green” Performing Arts Center, designed by San Francisco architects firm MKThink, blends effortlessly into the surrounding landscape. Among the more interesting “green” features is a green roof—9,000 square-feet of drought-tolerant native California plants. The roof is designed to retain water and cleanse it before returning to the waterways. It also reduces the “heat-island” effect and provides for natural insulation, both reducing energy consumption. The Performing Arts Center also utilizes a waterless urinal system and all the buildings were constructed with high use of recycled materials.

Father Egon and the other six Benedictine monks who founded the Woodside Priory community were all refugees of Communist domination in Hungary in the post-World War II years. In the 1970s they affiliated with St. Anslem Abbey in New Hampshire to better establish American roots. Father Egon often tells students and guests that the school and community are “an American miracle.”

In addition to the Benedictine ethos, the founding monks brought high school soccer to the San Francisco Bay Area. The nearest high school team was in Monterey, so the boys played local college teams. Among the reminiscences is sure to be the time Priory beat Stanford.

Another favorite from the early years is the time one of the neighbors called to complain about the Priory boys’ colorful language on the playing field. The monks had no idea—as refugees, they had learned only appropriate language in their English classes. They were quick to solve the problem by assigning field duty to a monk who had been a military chaplain.

From the original athletic fields that the monks and boys built by hand, the campus now has a complete range of high quality athletic facilities. Local youth athletic teams use them, and a group of Portola Valley adults plays tennis on the Priory courts. The Benedictine tradition encourages participation in the local community, and Priory students and adults today volunteer in a wide range of capacities. The Benedictine monks participate in the local community of churches, and the Priory Chapel offers a full range of religious services to local residents.


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