Raynham Scout builds Rosary Walk for St. Ann Parish

By Kenneth J. Souza
Anchor Staff

RAYNHAM, Mass. — About a year ago, Paul Burke was looking for something to do as an Eagle Scout Project for Boy Scout Troop 43 to earn his merit badge.

“I was kind of struggling with ideas for a project and my mom just kind of jokingly said: ‘Oh, why don’t you do something for the church? Maybe like a Rosary Walk or something like that?’” he recently told The Anchor. “And I thought, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

He approached Father John Murray, his pastor at St. Ann Parish in Raynham, who immediately expressed interest in the project.

“From there, it just started to come together,” Burke said.

About a year later, on August 13, the 17-year-old proudly stood on his newly-created Rosary Walk and watched as Father Murray blessed and dedicated his handiwork.

“The actual construction of it took about maybe two-and-a-half months from May to August,” Burke said. “The planning of it probably started around this time last year, so it was almost a full year in the making when all was said and done. The Rosary Walk was blessed and unveiled on August 13.”

Nestled on the right side of the church when looking at it from North Main Street, the five-station Rosary Walk now occupies what was once a vacant and largely ignored grassy area on the property.

“That area was pretty much forgotten,” Burke said. “It was never used or kept up, so I basically transformed it into something people will use everyday now.”

Rosary Walks are traditionally used by Catholics as a place to pray the Rosary, meditate, or just relax and enjoy the peace of God’s Creation. The Rosary Walk at St. Ann Church consists of five stations, each with a wooden prayer plaque and a granite bench on which to sit. Each station represents one of the five decades of the Rosary.

“You’ve got to pray at each mystery to get from start to finish,” Burke said.

Although he’s studying heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, Burke joined forces with his father, who does woodworking as a hobby, to craft and mill the wooden station markers.

“I kind of relied on him to help me with that,” Burke said. “The church has about 40 acres and so they had a lot of downed trees there, so I asked Father Murray if it was OK if we went back there and made (the plaques) from some of the downed trees to use part of the church property and reclaim it and put it into the project.”

Opting for sturdier, stone benches at each station, Burke said he ordered the granite seats because “obviously, I can’t make stone benches.” He managed to solicit and collect $2,648 in donations from the community for the project, some of which was used to buy the benches.

Community involvement is a key to any Eagle Scout Project, Burke said. It essentially has to be something that benefits the local community or some sort of non-profit organization, like a church.

“It basically benefits them and it has to be something they’re able to use to just take some of the pressure off of them, and to try and help them,” he said.

In addition to raising money for the project, Burke also enlisted help from his fellow Scouts and even members of his parish.

“The whole troop helped out, along with a lot of the Scout leaders,” he said. “We had a lot of Scouts, and even had a couple parishioners come forward to ask if they could help. Also a lot of the local businesses were very supportive of this project in terms of either donating materials, providing advice or just giving me things at cost.”

Once each station and bench was installed, Burke said he worked with his mom to get some plantings from a local nursery to complete the landscaping around the Rosary Walk.

“We went to a local nursery and we basically walked around and looked at different plants and kind of felt out what would fit best for the Rosary Walk,” he said. “So we got three rose bushes, some St. John’s wort, a lot of the grasses, and a whole assortment of different plants. I think when all was said and done, we had about 52 plants.

“It’s a little dead right now, because at this time of year all the plants have kind of died off. But it will look great again in the spring.”

Burke even made a point of dedicating the project to one of his mentors, William Morgan, a longtime Scout leader with Boy Scout Troop 43, who passed away in 2016.

“We had wooded benches that we milled up and we created a sitting area for him,” Burke said. “That area is dedicated to him because he was in scouting for 63 years and he’s helped many Scouts before me. He helped me and he helped a lot of kids in our troop get to Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple years ago so he couldn’t be here for the final project, but I felt it was appropriate to include him in the project in some way.”

Although he’s still waiting to hear when his Eagle Scout Project will go before the board of review to earn the coveted merit badge, Burke is satisfied with the results and remains very proud of the work he put into it.

“It’s definitely something I’m very proud of and I’m definitely happy with the skills and the leadership experience that I’ve gained throughout this whole process,” he said. “I see the Rosary Walk every week when I go to church and I drive by it every day, too. It’s something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

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