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Monastery of the Holy Spirit 5K to benefit food bank

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Brother Callistus Crichlow ties his walking shoes, while Father Gerard Gross laces up his running sneakers to promote the upcoming 3rd Annual Monastery 5K and 1-mile Family Fun Run at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit on June 16. Gross will run in the 5K and Crichlow will walk. "I feel it is brain food," said Gross of his exercise regimen. "It helps me to think more clearly and bright."

Looking for a change of scenery for your next 5K run? Then the Monastery of the Holy Spirit just might be the ticket.

The 3rd Annual Monastery 5K and 1-mile Family Fun Run takes place on June 16 on the grounds of the monastery, with the running path traversing around the monastery's lake, past an organic garden, through a heavily wooded area and onto a Magnolia tree-lined lane.

"It's a very scenic route," said Brother Callistus Crichlow, a monk at the monastery.

Registration and check-in for the race is 7-8 a.m., with the 5K beginning at 8:15 a.m. and the 1-mile run at 9 a.m. The public is also invited to attend a Community Mass at 7 a.m.

Crichlow encourages non-competitive as well as competitive runners, walkers and families to participate.

"We want to keep it a beautiful, family fun event," said Crichlow, who added that participants get a T-shirt, goodie bag, water and healthy snacks.

Cost for the 5K is $30 and the 1-mile Fun Run entry fee is $10.

Proceeds benefit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit's Food Bank Outreach. Crichlow said the monastery's food bank is the oldest in the area, dating back over 30 years ago.

Each Tuesday from 8 to 10:30 a.m., those in need visit the monastery where they are given a free box of food. The box contains items such as produce, dry goods and canned goods. Meat is supplied at the holidays.

The monastery receives donations of produce from the Atlanta Master Gardener Club, and some individual donations, but the monks purchase the bulk of their food bank supplies from wholesalers.

Crichlow said about 40 people visit the food bank weekly, and last year between November 2010 and December 2011 the monastery provided 70,200 pounds of food to 4,274 households.

A number of agencies, including Rockdale Emergency Relief, the Department of Family and Children Services and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic relief agency, refer people to the food bank.

People from any county can use the food bank; they are only required to present identification, said Crichlow.

Crichlow said that while the number of people served hasn't increased since the economy weakened, the type of people needing the free food has changed. The unemployed are now seeking assistance from the monastery.

"There's been an increase in a certain kind of clientele. It's become very visible that people who are clients come from high-paying, well-paying jobs," he said.

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, as with all Trappist monasteries, commit a certain amount of their income to helping the poor, said Crichlow, and the Conyers monastery accomplishes its donation goal primarily through the food bank.

Past Monastery of the Holy Spirit 5Ks have attracted about 500 participants and raised roughly $12,000. Crichlow believes that because of the heavy promotion of the race, especially through social networking, the number of runners and walkers could increase.

"I have a feeling we'll be getting more than that this year," said Crichlow.

To register, visit www.trappist.net or www.revolutionrunning.net or stop by the Abbey Store at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 in Conyers. Call 678-964-2237 for more information.