By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CORALVILLE — When it came time to complete her Eagle Scout project, Amber Rose knew she wanted to build something for her parish, St. Thomas More, as a way of giving back. “I’d always known I wanted to do it there because I’m a youth leader and the parish has been an amazing support for me.”
In June, she finished work on a shrine for the parish’s Blessed Mother statue, which now stands atop a wooden pedestal encased in a wooden frame. Beneath the pedestal is a mosaic created of stones from pastor Father Chuck Adam’s personal collection. Benches in front of the statue invite guests to sit and pray for Mary’s intercession.
Amber, 18, is a founding member of Troop 270, an all-female troop in Coralville that formed last year when Scouts BSA opened to females. Her two older brothers are Eagle Scouts, so she was familiar with scouting and eager to work toward that rank.
New female Scouts are allowed two years to work toward earning the Eagle Scout rank. “We have all the same requirements as the boys. I’ve had to work really hard to make it a priority and get it done,” Amber said.
She approached Father Adam in December about the possibility of completing her Eagle Scout project at the parish. “I asked him, ‘what does the church need?’” He mentioned that the parish wanted to build a grotto for Mary. “She was out in the elements,” Amber said. “She was surrounded by flowers, but she didn’t really have her own space.”
Ultimately, with Father Adam’s blessing, Amber used her woodworking skills to design and build an inviting space. She said she learned to build structures during the parish’s yearly mission trip to Kentucky. “I learned a lot about what it takes to make a sound structure that doesn’t fall and a bench that is strong enough to support weight. I was lucky I had that prior experience using power tools; I would have been uncomfortable otherwise.”
Primary funding for the project came from a Thrivent Financial grant. A surprise donation from two women in the parish allowed Amber to add solar spotlights and upgrade the wood she planned to use.
Parishioner Susan Puhl, who assists with landscaping at the parish, helped Amber find an ideal spot for the shrine in addition to relocating plants. “She was there from start to finish helping me with anything and everything.”
Amber started building the structure in late May. Her father, Steve, and brothers, Adam and Ryan, assisted under her guidance. “The big thing (about the Eagle Scout project) is to teach you about leadership. I had to tell my family what to do! It made me a stronger leader because telling your older brothers and father what to do is a difficult task!”
Amber will head to St. Ambrose University in Davenport this fall and hopes to earn Eagle Scout rank in October.
Father Adam said he is proud of Amber “for the research she conducted in order to design her project, and all the hard work of preparing the area and building the shrine. Her completed project stands as a tribute to the participation of our youth in the life of our parish and it will be appreciated by many parishioners for years to come.”
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