Faith Matters: A flower and an angel in the garden

  • The Rev. Robert Koerber in the gardens behind the Holy Name of Jesus Church in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Robert Koerber in the gardens behind the Holy Name of Jesus Church in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Holy Name of Jesus Church on Thayer Street in South Deerfield. Staff file photo/PAUL FRANZ

Holy Name of Jesus PNCC
Published: 7/26/2020 1:08:27 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

“Now the Lord God planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed, and The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” Genesis 2:8-9a

In 2019, the Holy Name of Jesus PNCC celebrated its 90th anniversary. In that year, we had three beautiful women, members of our Church, who celebrated their 100th birthdays. Unfortunately, we lost one of our dearest church mothers, who passed away in March this past year from the Coronavirus, three weeks before celebrating from her 101st birthday. Her name was Jennie Demara.

On Saturday, we will re-open our church, after many months of isolation, for the first time and receive Jennie. We will celebrate Holy Mass for her in the church that she was raised in and truly loved. She was only 10 years of age when our church was built and consecrated. We will remember her life and all she gave to her church, as many others will, in prayer and worship for their departed loved ones, who have been called back unto their heavenly Father.

Though our church doors have been closed for indoor public worship since March, we have taped our services for broadcast on the local channels and You Tube. We have also been blessed by the Lord in having 10 consecutive Sundays, to date, of beautiful weather, where we have been able to celebrate our services outdoors. Jokingly, I had one of my parishioners who wanted me to go with him, as a lucky charm, to one of the area casinos. I politely told him “no.” I personally find that there is a certain beauty in worshiping God outdoors. I think of the story of Noah, who after the great flood, came out of the ark, built an altar, and worshiped God (Genesis 8:20).

In 2019, as we celebrated our 90th anniversary, we also blessed and dedicated an “angel garden,” which is located behind our church, as a place for prayer and reflection. There have been many who have come to this special place and offer prayers for themselves and others, without entering our church proper. It should be noted that this “angel garden” would not have been possible without the work and love poured out by members of the Tibetan community, whom we have shared with the past two years a special day, dedicated to prayer and reflection of all religions, based on the universal principles of love, peace, compassion and forgiveness. We were honored that day in having a very high-ranking Buddhist monk from Mongolia who along with other Tibetans offered prayers, chants and blessings for our garden and for each other.

Surrounding our “angel garden,” there are many fruit trees which have been planted over the years through the efforts of Felix Lufkin and others from “Help Yourself Edibles of Northampton,” a nonprofit group whose aims have been to transform public spaces into areas teeming with fruit, vegetables and herbs.

I think Jennie would have loved our garden, for Jennie loved angels and flowers. I think she would have sat and felt the warmth of the sun and God’s love for her in our garden. There will be many who will come and visit our garden and remember departed loved ones who, like Jennie, are all flowers in the garden of God.

Amid all the sadness and uncertainty of the Covid-19, many rays of hope are still found. Though there have been too many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and even children who have lost their lives to this virus, it is in the garden of God, that life and peace is found.

We are reminded of the words of Jesus who spoke in John 15:4: “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

Jennie remained in the Lord and was ever faithful unto the Lord all her life and now shares with Him the beauty of His garden of Eternal life.

About Holy Name of Jesus PNC Church

Holy Name of Jesus PNC Church is at 15 Thayer St. in South Deerfield. We are a family-oriented church established in 1929 by a community of parishioners whose legacy of spiritual freedom is still with us after 80 years.

We are a democratic, non-papal Catholic parish, family-oriented, with a Liturgical worship style. Follow us on Facebook. 413-665-2129.




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