Boy Scout’s garden offers tranquil place to reflect on life

By Michelle Martin | Staff Writer
Sunday, October 19, 2014

Benjamin Turcich puts the finishing touches on a respect life garden he built as part of his Eagle Scout project for the Boy Scouts of America on the grounds of St. Michael Parish in Orland Park on Oct. 5. A statue of Mary is surrounded by three circular gardens devoted to the unborn, disabled/sick, and the elderly. Perennials have been chosen that are symbolic for each garden. His goal was to raise awareness of respect life issues. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

Parishioners at St. Michael in Orland Park will have a new place to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and reflect on the dignity of human life.

Benjamin Turcich, 17, and fellow members of Orland Park Boy Scout Troop 318 built a Respect Life garden at the parish, featuring a statue of Mary at the intersection of a cross shape made out of paver bricks, with separate circular gardens at each end meant to represent the unborn, the sick and disabled and the elderly.

A hedge made of arborvitae and viburnum offers a buffer from traffic, and, once it grows, will provide a backdrop for photos from weddings or other celebrations, Turcich said.

Turcich put the project together to earn his Eagle Scout Award. While there is still some paperwork to finish up, he hopes to have it approved by the end of the year.

Turcich, a junior at Marist High School, started the project toward the end of 2013, putting together a design and approaching the parish council at St. Michael for approval.

Then he worked with local landscapers to get donations and discounts on materials and completed his plans. By August, he was collecting supplies.

On Sept. 27, installation day, 36 Scouts and adult volunteers worked from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to install the pavers and plant the gardens.

“It was a very long day,” Turcich said.

Turcich and his father, Tim, returned the following weekend to put some finishing touches on the job.

Each of the three garden areas at the ends of the cross has a special meaning, Turcich explained.

All three include a rosebush. The one for the unborn also has black-eyed Susans, for justice; the garden for the sick and disabled has stonecrop for tranquility; and the garden for the elderly has purple coneflowers for strength and health.

All of the plants are perennials so they won’t have to be replanted each year.

Turcich said he hopes people come and look at the garden, and that it gives them a sense of peace and helps them remember the dignity of human life in all circumstances.

If someone comes while they are wrestling with what to do about a life issue such as an unplanned pregnancy or end-of-life care, he said, “I hope it helps them have a sense of peace when they make that decision.”


  • respect life
  • st. michael in orland park
  • boy scouts
  • garden

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