Blessed James Bell, Warrington

The Parish of Blessed James Bell in Warrington has been hard at work integrating the message of Laudato Si’ into the life of their parish - starting with the presbytery garden at St Benedict’s.

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Archdiocese of Liverpool, incorporating the former parishes of St Benedict’s, St Mary’s and St Oswald’s

The Parish of Blessed James Bell in Warrington has been hard at work integrating the message of Laudato Si’ into the life of their parish – starting with the presbytery garden at St Benedict’s, which has been turned into a green space for the local community.

Garden for the community

Parish priest Father Dave Heywood describes the ongoing transformation:

“We have a Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes outside the church which is being renovated because it has fallen into disrepair but is visited by all sorts of people on a daily basis. The Grotto backs onto a garden in front of the Priory (presbytery) that has been neglected for some years.

“During the first Covid-19 lockdown, aware that many local households don’t have a garden, I thought of turning the presbytery garden into a green space for the local community. I employed a gardener to ‘repair’ the lawn, rejuvenate the flower beds and pots, and tend to the garden on a regular basis. A parishioner donated a garden bench. It’s a work in progress, but people are beginning to use it.”

This green space not only benefits those who live locally but, as it is linked with Warrington Council’s Regeneration Masterplan, the wider community too. Just half a mile from the town centre, the garden is a peaceful space – particularly for those without gardens – in a very busy and built up urban area.

Covid memorial

The parish has suffered 55 deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic so, fittingly, a tree has been planted in the middle of the lawn in memory of those who have died. There are plans to engrave their names on stones that will be placed at the foot of the tree.

Template for other parishes

Father Dave Heywood hopes that the garden can serve as inspiration for other parishes that may have unused green spaces. As for Father Dave himself, he only wishes he’d thought of it sooner!

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