By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Devotion to Our Lady under the title of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” has been a longstanding tradition at St. Alphonsus Parish, said Father Paul Appel, the pastor. That devotion inspired a rosary garden, created and dedicated Oct. 12.
Fr. Appel said a Tuesday Novena has been held for years. Also, each May and October, parishioners pray the rosary together before Mass. During May, they celebrate the May crowning.
“A few months ago some very devoted and talented parishioners approached me about creating a rosary garden in the courtyard and I agreed. The courtyard has served various purposes over the years for social events, picnics and even a victory garden during the war. Now it is a great place for quiet prayer and an opportunity to teach others about the rosary,” Fr. Appel said.
The idea for the garden developed over time.
Gloria Chavarria said her mom, Carmen, is the rally captain for the parish’s America Needs Fatima group.
When a replica statue of Our Lady of Fatima traveled across the U.S. in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the miracle at Fatima, the Chavarrias attended a Mass in Our Lady’s honor. “It was beautiful. That captured our attention,” Gloria Chavarria said.
Just after that Mass, Carmen Chavarria received a mailing about Our Lady of Fatima and became a captain. The captain’s duties include organizing an event to honor Our Lady on an annual basis.
In 2018, a gathering prayed the rosary outdoors in Davenport’s Marquette Park and the story of Fatima was shared, Gloria Chavarria said.
That led to a desire to offer a rosary garden in 2019, where people could pray the rosary on their own or as a group outdoors. “We can even tie it in with retreats that we offer here at St. Alphonsus.”
Parishioner Laura Patton began coordinating the effort.
Char McIntyre said the vision came from Patton. “She came to me to see if it could be done,” McIntyre said. Char approached her husband Randy with the idea because he had been a master gardener.
With Father Appel’s approval, work began on the rosary garden on the north side of St. Clement Hall. “Randy dug out the grass, filled it in with river rock and edged it,” she said. Fellow parishioner Ron Rutten made a bench and engraved it with a cross. He also made a stone for each of the rosary’s mysteries: joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous.
A plaque inscribed with each of the five mysteries within the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous mysteries is displayed in the garden. McIntyre said the cross on the bench has an inlay that metal work artist Wayne Harbison created. The McIntyres donated a statue of Mary. Rita and Mark Wacker donated a holder containing fliers with rosary instructions.
“I was very happy to have been able to dedicate the garden during a celebration of the apparitions at Fatima where Our Lady reminds us, ‘Don’t be discouraged, I will not abandon you ever. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and through it will conduct you to God,’” Fr. Appel said.
Locations for other outdoor rosary or prayer gardens provided to The Catholic Messenger include:
Church of the Visitation, Camanche
Holy Family, Davenport
Our Lady of Victory/John F. Kennedy Catholic School, Davenport
St. Anthony, Davenport
St. Paul the Apostle, Davenport
St. Wenceslaus, Iowa City
St. Mary, Pella (includes a rosary trail)
Outdoor Stations of the Cross
Church of the Visitation, Camanche
Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center, Wheatland
Ss. Mary & Mathias, Muscatine
Divine Mercy, Ss. Mary & Patrick Church, West Burlington (also includes outdoor Stations of the Cross