It all began on a cold February evening in 2012 when we me in Our Lady's Parish Centre to start preparing for the Olympic torch's arrival in Parkway, on its journey to the Olympic stadium. We also planned to welcome the Pax Cristi peace icon as it circled its way around London prior to the Games, giving people a chance to pray for peace and safety at the games.
At the end of the meeting Father Norbert asked for any other ideas and it was suggested that a neglected patch of land, enclosed on three sides by Our Lady's church buildings, be turned into a Peace Garden. It was approved and Anne Stapleton, Rosa Kawashima and Ann Keller took on the task.
Saturday 28th April was a very wet and muddy day when a group of about eight of the most robust men, guided by Dave Stratton, relaid large paving stones. They also moved a defunct stone Baptismal font from the presbytery garden to a central point on the area of grass. Only two plants seemed to have survived earlier attempts at a garden. One was a large ceanothus, which bears deep blue flowers in May, and a mauve/pink clematis montana, which ran along the top of a fence; they are still the sigifigant planting in the garden.
In the following 10 weeks, a "ribbon" bed was created along the edge of a bank and filled with plants bearing the colours of the rainbow from red through to violet. Pots, tubs and plants were kindly donated by parishioners and friends and brightened up other corners of the garden. A panel for an external door to the church was painted by Sarah Merry, bearing a prayer by Guerric of Igny. A pottery memorial plaque was made by Hazel Leach, a parishioner from Father Norbert's former parish in Fulham.
Friday 6th July was the official opening of the garden. After celebration of a Mass for Creation, the attendees processed into the garden. The garden was then officially opened with Father Notrbert cutting the ribbon. Represtatives from Pax Cristi and the National Justice and Peace Network were also in attendance.
Click here to link to the photos taken at the opening event and on its first anniversary.
Click here to link to the photos taken relating to the Pax Cristi icon and the Olympic torch arrival at Welwyn Garden City
Since then the garden has settled down and become a very peaceful spot; not used by many, mostly because of its seclusion. Perhaps a lone fox is most familiar with it as he makes the same daily check around his "patch", which includes the garden where his feet have shaped his own pathway.
In 2013 a stained glass panel of a rainbow made by Sheila Almeyda was mounted in the rainbow bed.
In 2014, in remembrance of the start of the first World War, a simple labyrinth was scribed in the lawn, using the font as its centre.
In May 2016, a large portrait of St. Francis of Assisi, painted by Sarah Merry, was installed on the external wall of the church next to the confessional doors. It was blessed by Father Agnello, a Franciscan priest.
Article kindly provided by Anne Stapleton