Promised Land

Most of the time I’m not big on people interrupting when I’m talking,  but I’ve decided I’ll make an exception for spontaneous applause.  It’s happened twice in the last two weeks. 

Pretty sure it wasn’t me: it was the subject--The Promised Land.

The first time it happened was at the annual meeting of the Cathedral Area Preservation Association or CAPA.  I’d been asked to speak to the neighborhood association to answer the question of  “what is going on in the Cathedral lawn?”

As I explained that the we were growing tomatoes, peppers, green beans and zucchini that would be donated to those in need, the group broke into applause.  (And no, I didn’t deliberately pause like the politicians do.)

Second time it happened was last Saturday during our picture-perfect Planting Day. In the opening remarks, I mentioned that all of the social services agencies we’d reached out to had agreed to accept our donations when the harvest comes. The gardeners and committee folks—the people who will be literally getting their hands dirty—broke into applause. It was one highlight in a tremendous day.

We have 28 garden beds in the lawn and all have been adopted.  Some gardeners are parishioners; some are school and RE families.  Some are neighbors and some are just folks who found us.  All are incredibly kind people who want to make a difference.

You gotta love gardeners.  Lots of talk about the best method to plant seeds and the merits of tomato stakes  versus tomato cages.  But, as I walked around, the number one comment I heard was about the dirt.  “Oh this is good dirt!”  (It really is.  We loaded the beds with prime garden soil from Smith Brothers in New Lenox. )

Besides planting and getting to know each other, there was also time for prayer.  Fr. Bill offered a fitting blessing and Fr. Ryan sprinkled the beds with holy water.  It was a beautiful moment under blue skies and sunshine.

After all the work was done, the gardeners came together for vegetable-centric food and fellowship.  It was a lively gathering and really showed that folks want to put the  community in our community gardening.  This, like most things, is best done with a friend by your side and it was wonderful to see the friendships being formed.

As I gaze out my office window  now (I’m writing.  Really I am.), the tomatoes that were put in last Saturday have  already shot up.  Heaven knows, we’ve had plenty of rain. Some warmth and sunshine now will really make it grow.

This week the junior high students will plant the pollinator garden.  There’s a large bed to the south of the rectory front door that could use a little inspiration.  Under the  direction of Nancy Kuhajda from the University of Illinois Extension and junior high science teacher Amy Schwert, students will plant zinnias, milkweed and salvia.  When the kids come back in August, they’ll see how everything has grown and investigate whether the flowers have    attracted bees, hummingbirds and other beneficial insects.  We love having the school so involved!

Enjoy these pictures of Planting Day 2019! There are more on our Facebook page at Cathedral of St. Raymond Parish and School.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez, Director of Development, 815-722-6653, ext. 217



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