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National Council of Catholic Women at 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 725, Arlington, VA 22203 US - MARY'S GARDEN

National Council of Catholic Women Honors Mary with Prayer Garden at the National Shrine
Photos: John Whitman Photography

June 13, 2000
Contact: Andrea Schellman
703-224-0990, ext. 104


WASHINGTON, DC — The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception dedicated a new devotional area, Mary's Garden, on June 10. The prayer garden, a gift of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW), is located on a three-quarter acre site on the Basilica's northwest grounds.

Nearly 1,000 council members and friends traveled from places as diverse as San Francisco, Orlando, Houston, and dioceses in Michigan and Ohio to attend the dedication ceremonies as part of a Jubilee Year pilgrimage sponsored by the National Council of Catholic Women. Several hundred women from Pennsylvania traveled from morning to well into the night to make the day trip: four buses from Scranton and three each form Harrisburg and Greensburg. Beaumont, TX, was represented by almost two dozen people.

NCCW President K. LaVerne Redden expressed pleasure that NCCW members and friends were able to contribute an area of beauty and rest at the Basilica. "This garden honors Mary, a faith-filled woman who ‘pondered things in her heart,'" she said. "We hope that it will inspire all who come here to mirror Mary's life."

The Most Reverend Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, presided at the Mass and Dedication Rite, saying, "The National Council of Catholic Women has given, in Mary's Garden, a great gift to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and to the Church . . . So many are so grateful to Almighty God for the efforts of these faithful women who, through great faith, continual prayer, and much hard work, have realized such a splendid and wonderful accomplishment." Archbishop Montalvo was joined by the Most Reverend James C. Timlin, Bishop of Scranton, along with priests from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and from other parts of the country.

The circular garden features a fountain with several benches and prayer niches for pilgrims and visitors to rest and pray outdoors. The area is planted with trees, flowering shrubs and perennial flowers with white blossoms that represent Mary's purity. Other plants identified with the Blessed Mother have been selected for the garden. Brian Kane, ASLA, of the Kane Group in Alexandria, Va., served as landscape architect for the garden.

Through the generosity of the Diocese of Orlando and the Associates of NCCW, a statue of Mary, Protector of Faith, will be prominently located in the prayer garden. The life-size image of the Madonna and Child, commissioned of Washington sculptor Jon-Joseph Russo, is dedicated to Bishop Emeritus of Orlando, Thomas J. Grady who was a former director of the National Shrine.

Joann Hillebrand, chair of the garden project and immediate past president of NCCW noted that, "Since the year 2000 marks NCCW's 80th anniversary, the gift of the garden is a fitting commemoration of NCCW's years of faithful service to Church and society."

Monsignor Michael J. Bransfield, rector of the Basilica, said the garden was a "wonderful complement to this national sanctuary in honor of our Blessed Mother. I'm delighted that pilgrims and visitors will be better able to pray and enjoy the beauty of these grounds, thanks to the generosity of the National Council of Catholic Women."

The National Council of Catholic Women, founded in 1920, is a federation of more than 5,000 Catholic women's organizations in the U.S.


Fountain view of Mary's Garden, June 10, 2000


Mary, Protector of Faith in Mary's Garden


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