Memorial garden consecrated by bishop
Over five years of vision, determination and grace finally brought the long-awaited day when the memorial garden at St Mary, Nanoose Bay could be consecrated. On Jan. 15, Bishop Anna arrived at St Mary to find 33 people gathered in the memorial garden, some of whom had the ashes of loved ones resting underneath the gathered feet in unmarked plots.
The memorial garden was originally designed by Frank Fenn in 1996, and since then the surrounding shrub and flower gardens have been lovingly cared for by our parishioners. The ashes of 81 loved ones have been interred over the past 26 years and there are plots available for another 525.
In order to protect the interred remains in perpetuity, it became necessary to register the memorial garden. That process was started in 2016. The smallest parcel of land that could be registered on the title was a parcel of 2.45 acres of the total 7.5 acres of church property that had been given to the diocese in 1981 by Lt.-Col. Jack Bagley.
The memorial garden, along with the church, hall, parking lot, septic field and property back to the railway are now registered as one lot in the Land Title Office and will always be considered part of the “cemetery.” To comply with the regulation that human and animal remains cannot be interred on the same parcel of land, the subdivision of the seven acres into two parcels allowed the establishment of the St Francis pet memorial garden in a corner of the nearly five acres of forest on the larger parcel.
The frustrations and experience of repeated hoop jumping faded away as we stood around as a parish, remembering our loved members who have passed and acknowledging how precious and fleeting this one life is.
Heather Utley and Mary Holte both had their husbands interred in the memorial garden and they offered the following reflections on the garden:
It is a tranquil and lovely garden in our own neighbourhood where my family and I can come and spend time remembering my late husband and reflecting on happy memories. I enjoy planting flowers there too, knowing he would laugh when the deer come and eat them! (Heather Utley)
The moment my husband died I knew I was standing on holy ground. Knowing that he now rests in holy consecrated surroundings that will be there for perpetuity gives me even deeper peace. (Mary Holte)
Reaching out, welcoming in
At St Mary, Nanoose Bay, on each Sunday’s bulletin cover you’ll read (in large print): “Reaching out, and welcoming in.” But how to do this during a pandemic? We have been challenged to become more creative.
In the fall, we came up with an exciting idea for inviting our neighbours safely into our space. Parishioner John Sandiford asked Karen Kenyon of Dream Homes Vancouver Island Group, Royal LePage, and the folks at Artez Photography Corporation if, through donations of money and talent, they would help create a virtual tour of our buildings and grounds. And they said, “Yes!”
Now we can invite those people who have driven by St Mary hundreds of times, and perhaps wondered “What is it like inside that little church?” to visit from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Walking through the doors of a church for the first time can be intimidating. Our hope is that by viewing our space online, and through visiting our website, our neighbours might feel more comfortable coming to our hall, our church, our memorial garden or the St Francis pet memorial garden.
A secondary hope is that potential renters will check out our space before contacting us, allowing them to get a better sense of whether we would be a good fit for their purposes.
And who knows what other wonderful encounters might happen? We’re excited to find out. Watch the video below and then explore the church buildings and grounds with a 3D tour.