Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Giving Glory To God Through Gardening

The first time I met Gloria and Neil Nelson was back in 2006. They were shopping for religious items at Notre Dame Bookshop, Atlanta, before closing its doors for good. Since that time I’ve seen the couple at various events around the Archdiocese of Atlanta such as the Catholic Charities Gala and the Eucharistic Congress.

Earlier this spring I heard from the Nelsons. They were telling me about their garden. Gloria described it as their sanctuary, their heaven here on earth. They even shared some photos with me, which really perked my interest. Last week I finally got by their Roswell home, and it was breathtaking to see it in person. They started the garden back in 1987, but over the last 20 years they’ve added statues of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and saints, crosses, angels, scripture readings, etc.

In one part of the Nelson garden among the flowers and shrubs are (foreground, l-r) a statue of St. Francis, an angel, and a statue of the Pieta. In the background is another statue of St. Francis, some crosses and a sign that says, "Bless This Garden."                           

Among the flower window box of geraniums is a church and an angel.

It all started after they became members of St. Peter Chanel Church. Gloria began attending morning Mass, former pastor Father Frank McNamee (now Msgr. McNamee) served as a source of inspiration and they grew stronger in their faith. Over time the garden flourished with a number of lovely, carefully placed religious articles. Some came from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, while others came from local nurseries and stores. 

A statue of Mary (Our Lady of Grace) is displayed among the peony, zinnia, and other flowers and bushes. 

“We began gardening with our first house in Sandy Springs. We have continued to enjoy the serenity and meditative atmosphere of our tranquil gardens since then,” said Gloria.

A Celtic cross sits in the center of a bed of Shasta daisies. On the top of the wall surrounding the bed is a statue of the Nativity. The circular stones surrounding the wall are Stations of the Cross, made by the late Cistercian monk Father Bob Pearson.   

It got me to thinking how many others may be out there who see their garden as a sanctuary, a place for quiet reflection and an environment that invites God’s creatures like birds, butterflies, and yes, even rabbits.

If you have such a place at your home, feel free to email (malexander@georgiabulletin.orgme some photos of your garden. I’ll put them in a photo gallery, along with some additional photos of the Nelson garden, so others can enjoy them.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Press release from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

We're working on a local reaction to the natural disaster that struck Monday night.
Here's the news release from the archdiocese.

Archbishop Coakley on devastating tornadoes:“We will walk with the people of Oklahoma through their recovery” 

The Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the members of the archdiocese are appreciative of the outpouring of prayers and support they have already received from people around the world. The archbishop assures the victims of the tornadoes that he and the faithful in Oklahoma will walk with them not merely through the next few days, but through the weeks, months and years of rebuilding to come.

“Our first concern is for the victims who have lost their lives or loved ones and suffered injury or loss of property,” Archbishop Coakley said. “We are moved by the efforts of the first responders who have put their own lives on hold to help in this time of need. We owe them a debt of gratitude and assure them of our prayers. As soon as possible, I will be on site in Moore to help support and offer comfort and consolation to anyone who might need or desire it. We draw hope in such times from Jesus’ invitation to the weary or troubled to come to Him and find rest.

“Catholic Charities OKC and we as an archdiocese will work with many others to ensure a smooth and comprehensive response not only to the immediate needs of those affected by the violent storms, but also to their long-term needs as they rebuild their lives. We’re there for the long term and we’re usually the last ones to leave.

“The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has received a flood of inquiries and assurances of prayers from people across the country and around the world, including the Holy Father Pope Francis, the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ³ and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. We are deeply grateful.

“We will continue to provide information as it becomes available to us and will continue to pray for all those whose lives have been touched by this catastrophe.”

Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City is currently accepting donations at the following link: https://ccokc.ejoinme.org/?tabid=406485.

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 21, 2013) – From May 19 through May 20, 2013, a series of devastating tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma, culminating in a storm of EF-4 magnitude that struck Moore, Okla., May 20. These natural disasters wreaked havoc and left heartache and loss in their wake. As of 9:00 a.m. May 21, the death toll from the tornado in Moore stood at 24, revised downward from 51, and included seven children. Two people also died in Shawnee. The exact loss of human life remains unknown.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Heads Up: Another Graduating Class Leaves An Artistic Mark

A few weeks ago I was down at Our Lady of Victory School, Tyrone, for an assignment that was totally unrelated to something I would discover while I was there.

On the ceiling tiles above my head were a variety of colorful drawings – all with a religious or spiritual motif. There were images of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, crosses and a host of others. I learned it’s a tradition that began some 10 years ago for each outgoing eighth-grade class. Today there are approximately 135 drawings displayed in the school’s lobby and art room.

Our Lady of Victory principal Linda Grace said the ceiling art project started as “an opportunity for eighth-grade students to leave a personalized religious legacy to the school.” Emmanuel Mathieu, the school’s art teacher for the last five years, said the drawings “must be religious and representative of a designated annual theme.” This year’s theme was the Year of Faith.

From my observation there is a range of talent and skill; however, I randomly photographed three drawings that caught my attention. The first one was a drawing of Jesus by Ryan Lowther. Lowther will be attending high school at Our Lady of Mercy, Fayetteville. Since he enjoys art and math, his long-range goal is to become an architect.

Joachim Carreon created the second drawing of a boy praying. Carreon said he would like to draw it again at some point, because he received a number of compliments. Carreon is a member of St. Matthew Church, Tyrone, but he’s unsure what high school he’ll be attending.

The final drawing of two people supporting a heart was the work of Jordan Grier. Grier said she enjoyed doing her drawing and the symbolism behind it. Grier plans to attend high school at Woodward Academy, College Park.

To the entire Our Lady of Victory School class of 2013, I wish you the best in all your future endeavors.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer