Visitors to Minsteracres this year will have been aware of work going on to the side of the church.
Last Sunday, the final project was revealed when Bishop Seamus blessed our new St Cuthbert’s garden.
The design and labour are all down to the inspiration and hard work of parishioner Rosaleen Doonan, though it did not begin quite as she had anticipated.
“I had noticed that the garden at the side of the church was dark and overgrown.” she said. “One day I wandered in and found an old rockery. I went to Sr Therese and offered to renovate it.”
As far as Sr Therese was concerned, the offer could not have been better timed. “The overgrown laurels around the rockery were due to come down, and some people were quite upset about it. What we needed was a complete overhaul!” she said.
A little surprised that the request for a bit of TLC had turned into a major project, Rosaleen set about designing the new garden. “I had been toying with the idea of a cross, and St Cuthbert’s cross just came naturally.”
The rest may not have been quite so easy. “It has taught me a lot of lessons, especially patience. But every time I hit a problem, something would turn up.
“I very quickly realised I didn’t have the strength to do the heavy lifting. But, when I needed to get rid of the soil we’d removed, one of the workmen on site took it away. When I needed help to lay the gravel, Radek and Arek, two men visiting from a Passionist monastery in Poland, and another young Polish visitor did the heavy work. Even the funding was provided by a parishioner.
“The conservation volunteers dug out the old trees, and Minsteracres’ groundsman Tony Bramley was brilliant. He helped me all the way along.”
Rosaleen’s husband, architect Kevin Doonan, drew up the plans and they were shown to the parishioners. “When they saw the designs, the parishioners really got on board,” said Sr Therese. “It captured people’s imagination once they saw what was happening.
“It has opened up a dark, damp corner and it’s just beautiful to see as you drive in. I love the way the water flows over the stone in the centre, and the sound it makes. It’s a lovely place to sit, to reflect and to pray.” said Sr Therese.
That sentiment echoes the way Rosaleen approached the project. “In a sense, it has been a prayer,” she said.
“While I was building it, I did what Fr Mark does. I sat there long enough for an answer to come to whatever problem I faced.
“If the garden gives anyone sitting in it peace or the answer to their, problems I’m happy.”