The Garden of Remembrance… How did it come to be?

As you enter the driveway to our church, on the right, tucked away and surrounded by beautiful plantings is Saint Matthew’s Garden of Remembrance. Visit when you have a moment and be embraced by the surroundings. This is the last resting place for some members of our congregation. How did this Garden come to be and what makes it so special?

A garden for the interment of ashes was a vision of late parishioner Jerry Kean. Though funding for the garden was not available, planning began nonetheless. The committee was originally chaired by Jerry until his health failed, and then by Tom Cassel. The planning was extensive and extended over six years. More than twenty members of Saint Matthew served at various times and in various capacities on the Garden Committee. Other memorial gardens were visited and served as inspiration. Much thought was given to where the garden should be located on the church grounds. When the decision was made, the garden design was prepared by architect and former member Lloyd Flores.

Church members were committed to the idea of a memorial garden but funding continued to be a deterrent. Then, a gift came from the estate of John Wallach, an unexpected gift from a friend of Pastor Uehling. (If he had ever visited Saint Matthew or why he chose our church for his generous gift is unknown.)

It was a very significant gift, covering more than half of the garden’s cost of $47,000, which allowed the plan to proceed. Many donations were also received from family and friends of Angela Sena, Jerry Kean, and others which were used to purchase specific items for the garden in memory of loved ones.

Flagg’s Garden Center’s construction proposal was selected from sev-eral bids presented to the Garden Committee and work began in June 2003. Much of the prep work, removing trees and brush and other vegetation, was handled by church members. Unfortunately, Jerry passed away before his dream was realized. His ashes were the first interred in the garden and the fountain was given in his memory. Brian Sena, Angela’s husband, and family members contributed their craftsmanship and labor to the garden gates, arbors, benches and footings for the granite memorial book. Her ashes are also interred there. The Garden of Remembrance was completed in 2005 and a Dedication Service held on May 22.