A prayerful presence: Rosary Garden serves many purposes


By Barb Arland-Fye

Father Bob Harness, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Davenport, sprinkles holy water in the parish’s Rosary Garden. Parishioners donated money to have the names of loved ones engraved on rosary “beads” in the garden, which was dedicated Aug. 14.

DAVENPORT – Holy Family Parish converted a potential liability into an asset with creation of a Rosary Garden that begins on the northwest corner of the church and wraps around it to the east. The transformation eliminated erosion problems, cracked sidewalks and a jumping-off point for skateboarders.
Father Bob Harness, pastor of Holy Family, blessed the Rosary Garden and everyone who attended the Aug. 14 dedication after the vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“We had all of this extra work to do before we could even start this Rosary Garden,” Fr. Harness said, referring to design, demolition and construction work. As he walked through the garden, identifying the mysteries of the rosary, he sprinkled holy water on the rosary’s crucifix, its rectangular Indiana limestone “beads,” and the well-tended plants.
Construction of the Rosary Garden required plenty of sweat equity from the parish’s Knights of Columbus and other parishioners. Ben Menke, a parishioner who joined the KCs in 2012, spearheaded the project. He lives kitty-corner from the church. Some 16 years ago, while vacationing with his family in Orlando, Fla., Menke and his mother, Cecelia, viewed a rosary garden which she liked very much.
Cecelia, now deceased, thought a rosary garden should be created somewhere in the Davenport Diocese. Her son presented the idea to the KCs Deacon Timmerman Council of Holy Family Parish in 2009 and again in 2011. He realized his proposal would be more persuasive with an architectural drawing, so he commissioned one. Parishioners enthusiastically embraced the project last year, purchasing limestone rosary “beads” to be engraved with the names of loved ones.
“Our Father” 24-inch by 24-inch stones went for $1,000; Hail Mary 14-inch by 20-inch stones went for $500; and 5-inch by 10-inch pavers are selling for $100 each. The pavers, also engraved with loved ones’ names, will be sold for years to come.
Profits from sale of the stones helped pay for the garden and will also be used toward garden maintenance and restoration of the church’s stained glass windows. Menke estimated the Rosary Garden would have cost $80,000, but parishioner labor reduced out-of-pocket expense to about $36,000.
Parishioner John Kessler chronicled construction of the Rosary Garden in photographs which show parishioners in jeans, T-shirts and gloves moving dirt and drainage stones, sweeping new cement sidewalks, laying bricks for the retaining wall and sod for the garden, hauling mulch in wheel barrows and planting flowers.
Menke, who does most of the gardening, said that among the 35 to 40 plantings are Rose of Sharon, boxwoods, day lilies, roses, hostas and clematis. The garden will grow, with more plantings and pavers. Additional work will include obscuring the air conditioner units with attractive fencing to match the white arbor at the garden’s opening.
Menke couldn’t be more grateful to his fellow parishioners. “I’m just very ecstatic about, number one, getting the Rosary Garden done because I know I could never have gotten it done by myself; second, that people thought it was a great idea; and third, that I can look out the door and see the garden. It’s just gorgeous.”
He also thanked his pastor. “If it wasn’t for Fr. Bob, this wouldn’t have happened.”
The Knights, in turn, expressed appreciation to Menke in a letter dated Jan. 26, which appears inside the front cover of the booklet chronicling the project:
“… We here at Holy Family, and especially Council 14678, have been greatly blessed by your positive attitude, your tremendous work ethic, and your leadership in this Rosary Garden project.…
“I’m sure all the brother Knights, the parish, the entire neighborhood are very grateful to you for leading us in this wonderful endeavor … Ben, thank you so much for sticking to your convictions, and I’m sure that Our Blessed Mother is proud of you, too!”

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