By Olivia Escueta
Since opening its doors at its current address in 1985, the interior of Holy Name Church in Ketchikan has undergone countless repairs, remodels, and additions. But for the invasive weeds and brushes of nature, the grounds of Holy Name were relatively untouched. Then one day, a group of parishioners took it upon themselves to turn over 500 feet of dirt into memorial gardens. Thus, the Garden Project was born.
Long-time parishioners, Grace Hasibar, Barbara Guenther, and Martha Jacobsen, along with a team of volunteers that made up the Garden Committee began with the 50 feet of gravel that sloped behind the church. After carefully sketching out a design, choosing plants, and obtaining estimates for the costs of materials, they brought it to the congregation.
“The good news is the plants and materials are completely paid for,” Martha Jacobsen said, addressing the congregation at the Masses; “the bad news is, the money is in your pockets.” Parishioners had the option of either donating to the cost of materials, or donating in memory of a loved one. A few weeks later, the funds were raised and the Saint Therese of Lisieux Memorial Garden was completed.
The next phase of the project was the 300 feet of land largely made up of weeds, salmon berry bushes and small trees at the front of Holy Name — a mammoth undertaking to be sure.
Thankfully, the committee was armed with overwhelming support from all sides. First, a local construction company donated their backhoe to uproot a majority of the weeds; then, a community that donated funds, tools, materials and laborers, many of whom were youth; and finally, an amazing group of 35 missionaries from Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Austin, Texas.
Like the Saint Therese garden, every plant was chosen carefully, and planted according to size and color. Beautiful granite boulders framed the garden and lined the creek-like drainage ditch, which was filled by drain rock. Work began Sunday afternoon, and by Tuesday the Saint Francis of Assisi memorial garden was completed.
Thanks to the generous spirit of the Ketchikan Community, as well as the missionaries from St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Name will have a beautiful set of gardens that’ll grow not only in memory of loved ones, but as a reminder of what can bloom with the seeds of faith.