Niles Boy Scout creates prayer garden for local church

Published 12:58 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

Niles Boy Scout Charles Leonard created this prayer garden behind St. Mary's Church Parish Hall in Niles. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Niles Boy Scout Charles Leonard created this prayer garden behind St. Mary’s Church Parish Hall in Niles. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Sixteen-year-old Charles Leonard is helping bring a little more peace and serenity to the St. Mary’s Church Parish Hall in Niles.

The Niles High School junior and member of St. Mary’s Boy Scouts of America Troop 579 transformed an underdeveloped area behind the Parish Hall, 219 S. State St., into a vibrant prayer/meditation garden for the parishioners of St. Mary’s Church and the local community it serves.

With help from his fellow scouts, Leonard completed the project in about two weeks, or six working days.

About three years ago, Leonard decided he wanted to give something back to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for the many years they have supported Boy Scout Troop 579. During the past two months, Leonard turned that decision into reality through the completion of his Eagle Service Project.

Boy Scouts wishing to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout are required to complete an Eagle Service Project, which asks scouts to plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or the community.

“The Eagle Service Project that I developed will provide Saint Mary’s Church parishioners and local community members with a peaceful area to reflect and commune with nature,” Leonard said. “It will also provide Saint Mary’s Church staff an additional area to facilitate many of the services it provides to both its members and the community; such as a meeting place for Teen Life Program participants.”

Leonard said he is very thankful to all the community members who volunteered to help and donated the necessary materials to make the project a success. He also thanked local businesses, Vite Greenhouse and Varner’s Greenhouse, for providing many of the plants that the scouts installed. Leonard used some of his own money to purchase topping soil for the garden beds.

“I’m glad the project is done and I really enjoyed working with all the people who came out to help us complete the project,” Leonard said. “The Eagle Service Project gave me a great opportunity to use many of the leadership skills that I have learned through scouting. It really amazes me how great everything came together and I hope the members of St. Mary’s Church and community members will enjoy the new area.”