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Dear Parish Family,

As we near the completion of our years-long capital campaign, which started all the way back in 2016 with the necessary repairs and refurbishment of the inside and outside of the church nave, proceeded with a much-needed and very successful restoration of our pipe organ, and continued with the ongoing renovation of our Parish House and Lloyd Hall buildings, the final phase in this grand vision has always been to complete necessary updates and fixes to our beloved Lychgate Garden. One of the silver linings of the pandemic forcing more parish events outdoors was that many people rediscovered this space as the gift that it has always been: a place of eternal rest for loved ones who have gone before and also a place for fellowship, a place for worship, and a place of beauty to simply rest and be. Now, even more than when this whole project began, we see why it is so important to address some critical issues with this space so that it can continue to be a sacred oasis for our parish and the community.

The largest of these issues is the poor drainage which leaves much of the area swampy after heavy rains. We also lack a safe and accessible way to access the columbarium niches so loved ones may pay their respects without tripping on roots or slipping in mud. There is also a need to build another set of columbarium niches as we find ourselves in the pastoral crisis of having no more room to bury those who have not already reserved a space, but want to spend eternity wrapped in the walls of our hallowed enclosure. At the same time, we need to think about other options for interment which would be more sustainable over the long term. Finally, the Lychgate entrance itself is deteriorating and will need to be replaced, and the landscaping will need to be redesigned and replanted after all this work is done, so that the garden can be an even more vibrant and welcoming a space than it already is.

A committee, made up of Ray Gindroz, Priscilla Trinder Roady, Dottie Ballard, Robin Reeves, Jake Tobin, Jim Short, George Compo, and myself has been meeting over the past few months to come up with a plan for redesigning this space. After a thorough search we have enlisted Orbis Landscape Architecture to help us in this process. They will be working closely with the committee and with Hartman-Cox, the architects who have overseen our entire renovation, to ensure continuity of design and the highest level of execution.

We are coming to the point in our work where we want to invite you, the parish, to have input into the final design of the garden. On Saturday September 17, from 12pm-2pm we will be having an open forum for the presentation of concepts and reception of feedback (known in the design world as a “charette”). We would love for you to join us and lend your eyes and ideas to this process so that we might all take part in creating a space we will all have reason to enjoy.

If you would like to attend, please let us know by emailing Jim Short (moc.liamg@333trohsj) by September 12 with your name and the number of people in your party and we will make sure there is a space for you. A light lunch will be provided. And for those who are not able to join us, we look forward to sharing with you the final designs as they take shape over the coming months and the excitement builds for this important last phase of the project.

With every blessing,
Fr. Noah Van Niel

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