Building a place for peace, remembrance Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kat Wagner, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Through his Eagle Scout project, Evan Feller hopes to provide a place of peace for those coming to the Diocese of Madison’s Bishop O’Connor Center.

Feller will alter the entrance of the center with two gardens, each with a bench, to give visitors and residents a place for prayer.

“I really wanted to do something for the Church,” Feller said of his decision to work on this project. He had called around to several places and found he liked the idea of transforming the entrance to the center with the meditation gardens.

“Anyone can go there at any time — after Mass, maybe,” he said. “They can just come out and think.”

The new gardens also will be especially nice in this, the Year for Priests, for the retired priests who live at the center. The benches and plants will give them a place for prayer and meditation, Feller said.

Gardens’ symbolism

The project’s layout has a lot of symbolism, he added. Three larger trees — a Bruns Serbian Spruce and two emerald green arborvitaes — will represent the trinity, while 12 shrubs — four Blue Muffin Arrowwoods and eight euonymuses, or “burning bushes” — represent the 12 apostles. Inside these will ring a circle of daylilies, which will be retained by stones from the burned-down St. Raphael Cathedral in Madison.

“The bushes, the stones from St. Raphael — it’ll be little mementos and reminders,” he said. A place to sit and think, inspired by the past.

The project has already started, with a few of the old, overgrown bushes cleared away that had dominated the entrance of the Bishop O’Connor Center. The new gardens, which will concentrate around the flagpoles bearing the U.S. and Vatican flags, will give the center entrance a “fresh new look,” Feller said.

“It’ll look more lively, with the shrubs gone,” he said.

Eagle Scout Award

Feller, a 10th grade student at Middleton High School and a member of St. Bernard Parish, is seeking to earn the Eagle Scout Award with this service project and his other achievements in Scouting. The rank, a lifetime designation, is the highest achievement in Boy Scouts, a longstanding national organization dedicated to character development and values-based leadership training for young men.

In June this year, the 2 millionth Scout earned the Eagle since the badge was first awarded nearly a century ago, in 1912. But the award remains a distinctive and extraordinary achievement, with fewer than five percent of all Boy Scouts earning the rank.

The most recognizable part of the Eagle Award is its service project requirement. Scouts are asked to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helping any religious institution, school, or the community.

According to the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout service projects in 2008 provided $16 million in service to communities across the nation, based on a volunteer-hour value of $19.51. These projects have ranged from trail marking and park landscaping to rosary-making and church beautification, from hunter safety courses to collections for third-world countries.

Diocese, parishes benefit

The Diocese of Madison and its parishes have been recipients of many Boy Scout service projects over the years. The Bishop O’Connor Center itself, where the diocesan offices have been located since 1998, has had three projects in recent years from Scouts desiring to serve their Church in the final project of their Scouting career. Tom Murphy, with engineering and custodial services for the center, said there are already several more Scouts looking to help the center with their service later this year or next.

Feller’s project, which will include significant landscaping, will total more than 100 volunteer-hours, primarily drawn from friends and fellow troop members.

He’s looking forward to the project, especially the construction of the new gardens and seeing it put together. “I don’t like to take things apart -- just put things together and go ahead,” he said.

Feller is conducting fundraising for the service project, and is seeking donations to help fund it. Tax-deductible donations can be made by sending a check payable to “Diocese of Madison” (memo line: “Evan Feller Eagle Project”) and mailed to 6917 Ramsey Rd., Middleton, WI 53562.

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