St. Pius X School in Cedar Rapids has a new prayer garden and labyrinth for its elementary students to use during their religion class. The school’s courtyard was transformed into a beautiful, spiritual space due to the efforts of three Girl Scout Cadettes at Regis Middle School.
Jenna Ampulski, Isabelle Canney, and Megan Korbel began their Silver Award project in September 2011 by researching the history, symbology, and designs of labyrinths with the help of Emy Sautter at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha. They worked with a landscaper and a botantist, submitted a grant application to DoSomething.org, and made several presentations to St. Pius X Church and School committees.
The girls funded their project from donations from area businesses and individuals, by doing chores, and by selling Girl Scout cookies to raise money for a total value of about $7,000. During the summer and fall of 2012, more than 60 volunteers, including Boy Scouts from troop 42 and Girl Scouts from troops 5049 and 8979, provided more than 650 hours of labor to build the labyrinth and prayer garden.
First, the site was excavated and 15 tons of limestone were placed into a square frame to create the base of the labyrinth. After the limestone was packed down, pavers were laid to create the walls of the labyrinth path and another 12 tons of limestone were added and packed to hold the pavers in place. Drainage tiles were placed throughout the courtyard to drain the rain runoff from the school’s roof, the dirt was graded and 26 tons of river rock were added. Finally, a Mary statue and plants were added to complete the prayer garden.
To finish their Silver Award project, the girls created an educational brochure for the St. Pius X students explaining how to walk/pray a labyrinth. They provided educational materials and activity ideas that the school and religious education staff can incorporate into their curriculum. The labyrinth/prayer garden was blessed by Father Mark Ressler of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in October and is available for parishioners to enjoy outside of school hours.
Congratulations to Jenna, Megan, and Isabelle for earning their Silver Award after 14 months of hard work!