Five Things You Didn’t Know about the Prayer Garden

There's more to the Mary of Mount Carmel prayer garden than a beautiful place to pray. Director of Mission Effectiveness Kammie French shares some little-known facts.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know about the Prayer Garden

Megan Spanswick, Reporter

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1. The rocks in the garden are there to represent the bluffs of Dubuque, where the BVM sisters live, and the fact that the original Mt. Carmel was actually a mountain. “The garden symbolizes both the Carmelites and the BVMs,” French said. “The fact that our contractor was able to find rocks from actual Dubuque bluffs is an added bonus.”

2. According to French, the waterfall is not only beautiful, but contains powerful symbols. It was chosen to represent both the Mississippi River, where the mother house of the BVM order is, and the spring of Elijah on the original Mt. Carmel. “We wanted that garden to have water because it represents both of the founding orders,” French said. “It’s not only pretty, it’s meaningful.”

3. The location of the garden is intentional. “The Brandsma Chapel is the most sacred spot on our campus,” French said. “We thought the garden’s location on the south end would provide a nice balance.” French added that she likes that the garden is visible from many classrooms, so more people can enjoy it throughout the day.

4. The plants and flowers that make up the garden are symbolic. One example is the white lilies, which represent Mary and the BVM order. Another example is the collection of red roses, which are a symbol for St. Thérèse of Lisieux, according to French.

5. The word “Carmel” means “God’s garden,” French said. The Mary of Mount Carmel garden was created to reflect the Carmel community and its reverence for both of its founding orders, as well as for Mary herself. “I pray students really feel welcome to go there whenever they are able.”

Five Reasons to Visit

by Religion Teacher Mark Plaiss

1.“The prayer garden is very conducive to prayer,” Plaiss said. “No matter if you are a teen or an old guy like me, it’s a good place to do that.” 

2. The garden’s appearance. “My favorite time to be out there would be dawn when the sun is just coming up,” Plaiss said. “It’s very pretty at that period of time. It’s like everything is waking up.” 

3.The garden is full of meaning. It recognizes the fact that we take time with God, according to Plaiss. “We’re a high school, but we are also a place of prayer.” 

4. It shows the value our community places on prayer. “Prayer is just as important to this school as physics, chemistry or English,” Plaiss said. 

5. It may be new, but it’s being used. Before a home games, the varsity football team prays in the garden, according to French. Parents and families have even joined in.