building a prayer garden
The landscape is changing at St. Edward the Martyr, the Roman Catholic church in Sisters.
The church is in the middle
of Phase II of its building program.
"It took two years of long-range planning, but we are adding to our existing sanctuary and developing a prayer garden," said Reverend Thomas Faucher. "Phase III, which is down line, will be a new sanctuary."
The addition to the existing sanctuary will add seating for an extra 70 people. The west wall of the building will be removed and expanded. The new wall will be mostly glass, to allow worshippers to look into the cloistered prayer garden that is also part of the new construction.
"It's very important that our churches reflect the beauty that God has put in the earth," Faucher said. "In Catholicism, there is a long tradition of cloistered gardens being connected to the churches. We think that it's important to get back to an appreciation of natural beauty and art in worship of God. This garden will be a place of prayer and meditation for the whole community."
Faucher will have his work cut out for him if he wants to keep the attention of his parishoners during his sermons. In addition to plants, flowers, shrubs and a stream, the prayer garden features 34 load-bearing statues, each carved in the image of a human figure.
He noted, "This is very rare in modern architecture, but it's an ancient (art) form. The statues will be in the image of the patron saints of the parishes of the Catholic churches in eastern and central Oregon. Each saint will hold in his or her hand a model of the church building for which they are a patron."
The garden will named after Saint Winefride, the Shrine Patron of Holywell, Wales, who, Faucher explains, "is a favorite of mine."
The statues are being carved by local artist Skip Armstrong. Five statues have been completed, and the garden is built in such a way that one post (made of lodgepole pine) can be removed in order to be carved, then put back for the next post to be removed and carved.
There will also be stained glass windows depicting the stations of the risen Christ, as well as grid work and gates by Jeff Wester of Ponderosa Forge.
Total cost for the project is estimated at $250,000, and if all goes well, it looks to be completed by the end of August.
"We are eagerly seeking donations," Faucher added. "We want this to be a prayer garden, not just for us, but for the city. All we want is a place for people to come out and pray."