Monastery ded­i­cates a prayer gar­den

Me­mo­rial hon­ors Pas­sion­ist priests, broth­ers and long­time par­ish­ioners

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

As the Rev. Mike Mur­phy pre­pared his homily for Sun­day’s Mass, he had a song stuck in his head: “Sea­sons of Love,” the ear­worm of an an­them from the mu­si­cal “Rent.”

The pas­tor told a packed St. Joseph’s Monastery that the song, which asks how to mea­sure a year in a per­son’s life — “525,600 min­utes?” — struck him as fit­ting for the ded­i­ca­tion Sun­day after­noon of a me­mo­rial gar­den to the long­time Pas­sion­ist priests, broth­ers and par­ish­ioners who spent their lives build­ing up the Catholic par­ish in Irv­ing­ton.

“How many of them took care of us in fu­ner­als and bap­tisms?” Mur­phy asked. “They taught us to mea­sure life by lov­ing.”

The St. Paul of the Cross Prayer Gar­den on the east side of the church con­sists of a path with more than 300 en­graved bricks and a statue of St. Paul and a crucifix. Af­ter the11a.m. Mass, the con­gre­ga­tion pro­cessed out into the long gar­den to marvel at the new ad­di­tion to the monastery grounds.

The Rev. Robert Jo­erger, the Pas­sion­ist provin­cial su­pe­rior for the East­ern United States, Canada and parts of the Caribbean, said a bless­ing prayer over the gar­den.

“Those present here to­day rep­re­sent gen­er­a­tions of faith­ful par­ish­ioners who honor us with their pres­ence,” Jo­erger said. “We know that, in spirit, those who now share the full­ness of your king­dom are sur­round­ing us with joy and love.”

The Pas­sion­ist priests and broth­ers op­er­ated the monastery un­til giv­ing the build­ing to the Arch­dio­cese of Bal­ti­more in the 1980s amid dwin­dling fi­nances and num­bers.

Upon hear­ing that the gar­den would be ded­i­cated to the Pas­sion­ists, the re­li­gious or­der do­nated the statue of its 18th cen­tury founder, St. Paul of the Cross. It is a replica of the enor­mous mar­ble one at St. Peter’s Basil­ica in Rome.

Par­ish­ioners and vis­i­tors lined the sides of the path dur­ing the ded­i­ca­tion, and the choir sang the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth,” ac­com­pa­nied by a vi­o­lin­ist and a trum­peter.

At­ten­dees crouched down with phones and cam­eras to take pic­tures of bricks bear­ing the names of their rel­a­tives, pas­tors and friends.

Joan Har­gadon, 66, of Ca­tonsville Manor, peered down fondly at the name of her hus­band’s late grand­mother, Mary Tarunt, a 35-year St. Joseph’s parish­ioner whom she called “Granny” and con­sid­ered to be her spir­i­tual mother in the church.

“They’re kind of like the peo­ple we stand on,” she said. “I stand on the shoul­ders of Mary Tarunt. ... The church is liv­ing. It’s the peo­ple we wor­ship with.”

Wil­liam John­son, a 1973 grad­u­ate of Mount St. Joseph High School, said the gar­den rekin­dled mem­o­ries of liv­ing a few blocks away as a kid.

“I know a lot of peo­ple in th­ese bricks,” he said.

John­son, 60, now lives in Ca­tonsville. But he re­turns to St. Joseph’s for Mass about once a month.

Donna Wal­ter-Beitler, 57, of Canton, grew up about a mile away, at­tended St. Joseph’s with her fam­ily and re­ceived the sacra­ments at the monastery.

Wal­ter-Beitler’s fam­ily bought a brick to com­mem­o­rate her par­ents, long­time par­ish­ioners Joan and Martin Wal­ter.

“It’s a nice way to re­mem­ber peo­ple,” she St. Joseph’s Monastery in Irv­ing­ton ded­i­cated a St. Paul of the Cross Prayer Gar­den Sun­day. It fea­tures a large statue of St. Paul. said. “They would’ve loved it.”

Sis­ters Mary Cook and Eileen Walsh said their fam­ily ded­i­cated sev­eral bricks to their par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers. Wil­liam and Rita Walsh’s brick is sur­rounded by bricks for their seven chil­dren and 13 grand­chil­dren. Wil­liam Walsh died in 1958; Rita Walsh died in 1974.

“It’s very spe­cial,” Cook said. “It is a legacy.”

Mary Cook and Eileen Walsh have since moved away from Irv­ing­ton — Cook to Tow­son and Walsh to Parkville. But they come back for spe­cial ser­vices, such as Christ­mas Mass.

“You look around — this is where your child­hood mem­o­ries are from,” Walsh said.

Mur­phy said St. Joseph’s Monastery has be­come a “com­muter church.” But he said the gar­den pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for “sub­tle evan­ge­lism.”

Dur­ing the ser­vice, on Na­tional Back to Church Sun­day, he urged those who vis­ited from far­ther away for the cer­e­mony to con­sider re­join­ing the church for Mass on Sun­days.

Mur­phy said some have cited crime in Irv­ing­ton as their rea­son for dis­con­tin­u­ing their par­ish mem­ber­ship.

The Pas­sion­ists preach the ideal of find­ing re­demp­tion in suf­fer­ing, and see­ing the face of Christ in those who suf­fer. They em­pha­size mis­sion­ary work with an em­pha­sis on help­ing those in need.

“If we are truly Pas­sion­ists,” Mur­phy said, “this is where we be­long.”

COLIN CAMP­BELL/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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