Common Ground for the Common Good
One of the features of our Jubilee Year—50 years of celebrating the Spirit of Vatican II in our present church building—is our Jubilee Garden, as highlighted in the 2015 Parish Report.
The biblical notion of Jubilee is more than an anniversary celebration. It is a sacred time of glad tidings, in which we care for the people around us. With this in mind, and with attention to Pope Francis’ call for us to be concerned about the environment and people in need, our parish will embark on the establishment of a community garden, a Jubilee Garden—Common Ground for the Common Good.
The Jubilee Garden will serve in many ways. It will provide an opportunity for local residents, some of whom have no place to grow their own vegetables, to do so. It will be a sign of our permanent stake in the community and our desire to be good neighbors. It will put our portion of God’s gift of the earth to better use, an example of our commitment to good stewardship as faithful disciples.
After much preliminary consideration and some preliminary work, a representative group of parishioners gathered recently to move this project forward formally. Those in attendance included Joe Beausoleil (chair), Helen Beausoleil (Helena Community Gardens), Clif Caughron (manager), Nina Heinzinger (master gardener), David Krainacker (parish), Ann Bauchman (parish finance
council), Larry Smith (maintenance ministry), and Viki Garman (parish pastoral council).
A number of parishioners have expressed interest in supporting this important project; there will be many ways to participate. We have many skilled and generous parishioners; the assistance of all is welcome.
Thanks to all!
Our Jubilee Garden –“common ground for the common good” – is now officially recognized by Helena Community Gardens. It is listed on their web site. The Garden Layout is on display in the gathering space; you can see the garden itself taking shape just north of the rear parking area. We have followed the gardening standards of Helena Community Gardens, and they have been very impressed with our design.
The Jubilee Garden celebrates Saint Mary’s long-standing presence in the community, and its stake in the broader community. It cares for the earth, returning it to productivity, and this productivity cares for our neighbors who are in need of space to grow food.
Thoughts about a community garden have lived in this parish for some time, and this is clearly the time to do it – not just as one of the observances of our Jubilee Year here on Missoula Avenue, but because we have the resource of Helena Community Gardens, which has provided helpful guidance.
So far, the major construction work has been accomplished by our regular maintenance ministry and many extra hands too. Once all the beds are in place, there will opportunities for all to participate in such way as to make this a project for the whole parish.
Later on in April or early in May, on a Saturday to be announced, we will have need of parishioners to help spread out the garden soil which will already be piled up in the beds through the help of machinery. Other beds will need to have garden soil transported to the beds by wheelbarrow, because they are not accessible with machinery. So, if you have an iron rake, a wheelbarrow, a shovel and gloves, you can be very helpful.
Not everyone will be able to participate in this physical way, so if you are interested in making a Jubilee donation toward the completion and ongoing operation of the garden, you may do so. Since a jubilee celebrates fifty years; perhaps a Jubilee donation of fifty dollars – or less if you choose. If you’d like to give mo
re, please see the information on the Garden Layout in the gathering space for an idea of how much various features of the Jubilee Garden cost.
This project has received enthusiastic support, with about 75% of funding already in place from unsolicited donations; so this is not a fundraising drive. There will be no letter in the mail, no thermometer in the gathering space. What this is, is an opportunity to have a large number of parishioners take ownership of this project by physically building it or contributing to its completion and ongoing operation.
The Jubilee Garden has the support of Bishop Thomas, and I know he will be happy to see it when he arrives for our parish celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of our present church building on August 28, which is also the date of our parish picnic.
Thank you to all who have helped make this long-held dream become a reality.
Our August 28th celebration with Bishop Thomas was outstanding. About 300 parishioners arrived for Mass, many of them present for a half-hour of musical preludes. In his homily, Bishop Thomas offered praise for Saint Mary Catholic Community as an embodiment of the Second Vatican Council’s vision. The Jubilee Garden is an element of that vision, as an expression of mercy for the sake of justice.
As Mass concluded, a procession led by banners and bells proceeded from the church, across the plaza to the Jubilee Garden, assembling inside. We shared the Word of God and sang songs of praise as our bishop blessed the garden.
Following the blessing, all present shared in the annual parish picnic, another celebration of community.
Now entering our second growing season, many hands have been hard at work with improvements and preparations at the Jubilee Garden. Improvements include the laying of weed block material across the entire walking surface of the garden, with crusher fines (gravel) spread over it. This provides a smoother walking surface.
Just west of the garden fence you can see that the pear and apple trees planted in the fall have taken nicely. These trees will not only provide fruit in coming years, they will also serve as a windbreak.
We look forward to another bountiful harvest for Helena Food Share this year. Last year we donated over 500 pounds of fresh produce; we anticipate even more this year. The Knights of Columbus, our parish youth group, and the Saint Francis Peace and Justice Ministry are among those raising food for Helena Food Share. The Jubilee Garden helps us all to be good neighbors.
This year we hosted a Seed Exchange and Compost Workshop just before the annual Garden Work Party at which many gardeners and others helped to transport and spread the crusher fines. The Garden Work Party got off to a great start, in no small part because all of our gardeners left their raised beds in such good shape at the endof the 2016 growing season. Members of our parish were also busy with weed whackers before the day began.