May 11, 2018

Late priest’s love of Mary helps students create rosary garden

With students of St. Joan of Arc School looking on, Father Guy Roberts, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, blesses on May 3 a newly created rosary garden on the parish’s grounds. The school’s seventh- and eighth-grade classes created the garden through a grant from Queen and Divine Mercy Center Endowment Fund, managed by the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

With students of St. Joan of Arc School looking on, Father Guy Roberts, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, blesses on May 3 a newly created rosary garden on the parish’s grounds. The school’s seventh- and eighth-grade classes created the garden through a grant from Queen and Divine Mercy Center Endowment Fund, managed by the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

It is said that April showers bring May flowers. But those rains in April threatened to extend into May and dampen the blessing of a new rosary garden at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.

Students of the Indianapolis North Deanery faith community’s school gathered on May 3 at the newly created garden on the parish grounds with dark clouds looming overhead.

Perhaps Mary’s prayers at the start of a month traditionally dedicated to her kept the rain away just long enough for Father Guy Roberts, St. Joan of Arc’s pastor, to bless the rosary garden brought about through the efforts of the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade classes.

About 10 minutes after the blessing, when all the students were back in their classrooms, the skies let loose and a driving rainstorm began.

The work to create the rosary garden, which is located on an island where two neighborhood streets meet on the east side of the parish grounds, was led by Joe Sheehan, who teaches religion to the school’s junior high students and serves as a pastoral associate in the parish.

It features a prominent statue of Mary holding a rosary. Around the statue are paving stones painted by the students that are laid in the form of a rosary. Perennial flowers have also been planted around the garden, which was nicely mulched by the students as well.

Father Roberts was pleased with the project and the school’s students taking an active part in it.

“I think today, more than ever, we need these tangible expressions of the faith,” he said. “For them to roll up their sleeves and get involved in it makes a lasting impression on them. It’s more than something they’re just hearing about in class. It’s something they’re helping to build.

“They’re helping to make part of the history of the parish by their physical work here. By investing their labor, they’re helping to develop a deeper faith within themselves.”

The students’ work was made possible through a $1,500 grant from the Queen and Divine Mercy Center Endowment Fund, which is managed by the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation. The endowment fund was created from a gift of the late Father Elmer Burwinkel, an archdiocesan priest who died in 2014.

“The rosary walk wasn’t going to happen if we did not receive the grant, financially speaking,” Sheehan said.

It was pivotal.”

Sheehan also appreciates how the new rosary garden is a lasting gift of Father Burwinkel, who had a deep devotion to Mary.

“That’s part of us as Church, as the communion of saints,” Sheehan said. “Just because we pass on doesn’t in any way separate us from who we are as Church.”

Sheehan said the construction of the rosary garden helped his students, many of whom are not Catholic, to understand better the Church’s devotion to Mary.

“The statue we have is Mary herself holding a rosary,” he said. “I want them to understand that we’re not worshiping Mary. We give her a special devotion and, at the same time, join in prayer with her to her Son, walking through the mysteries of her life and the mysteries of Christ’s life.”

Corbin Wentworth, an eighth-grader at St. Joan of Arc School, painted some of the paving stones used in the garden and helped to spread mulch. He said the project gave him and his classmates “a sense of pride.”

“It’s kind of fulfilling,” said Corbin after the blessing. “We did a lot of hard work out there. Yesterday, we spent a couple of hours just finishing up for today. It was very hot. I’m glad it looks so good.”

Sheehan hopes that the work that Corbin and the other students did in creating the rosary walk will be a subtle form of evangelization for the people of the neighborhood that surrounds the parish.

“It’s in such a prominent location so that it does impact the neighborhood,” he said. “If you’re driving by, it will remind them that we’re a Catholic school and that they’re invited to come and pray with us.”

Corbin shares that wish.

“I’d like to see some people sitting there praying to God, worshipping.”
 

(For more information about the Queen and Divine Mercy Center Endowment Fund, send an e-mail to ccf@archindy.org or call Rhobie Bentley, donor relations coordinator for the Catholic Community Foundation, at 800-382-9836, ext. 1482 or 317-236-1482.)

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