St. Ephrem’s parishioner Mary Jane LaVache stood at the foot ofa bronze statue of Jesus holding the twin towers, and gazed at thememorials to the nine parishioners lost on 9/11. As she does everyyear, she is preparing for the upcoming memorial service heldannually since the statue’s dedication in September, 2004, turningan ugly memory of devastation and despair into a beautiful oasis,The Garden of Hope.
The statue stands at the center of the garden, in a design thathad been carefully thought out to present a message of faith.
At that moment they were welcomed into the arms of the goodshepherd, and that’s what the statue depicts, said LaVache, whosemother, Maria LaVache, died in the terrorist attack.
The elder LaVache — the only female parishioner lost that day–worked as a receptionist at an insurance company on the 99thfloor of the north tower, said her daughter, who unites with theother grieving families, as they work to encourage each other,knowing that through pain comes strength.
It was a real defining moment for this parish and it speaks tothe generosity and compassion of this faith community, LaVacheadded. After the memorials, people are still there to support youin everyday life and the everyday struggles. They continue to maketheir presence known.
On Saturday September 10th, St. Ephrem’s will hold its9/11 10th anniversary memorial service at a 5:00 p.m. mass open toparishioners, family members and the greater Bay Ridge and DykerHeights community. They will have music and a time tohonor their loved ones at the garden, which has become a safe havenand a place of peace where they can reclaim their loved ones.
Many of the families didn’t receive any remains, so many ofthem would say we have nowhere to go.’ So we tried to make this aplace to go where they could feel connected to their loved ones,said LaVache.
This was such a source of comfort for my father, said LaVache.We are parishioners here since 1966 and this church played a bigpart in our lives.
It was at St. Ephrem’s that LaVache and her sister receivedtheir sacraments, went to school and celebrated their parents’ 25thwedding anniversary. And, in such a tight-knit community, they arenot the only ones.
Many of the families loved ones either grew up or got marriedand raised their family here. There’s a lot of significant benchmarks…so it gives it deeper meaning, LaVache noted.
Often, LaVache said, neighbors will stop by and take a peek atthe garden and this brings her comfort.
They’ll put their chin on the fence and be deep in thought.That’s what we want, she said.
LaVache noted that she is grateful for the efforts of MonsignorPeter Kain and the rest of the parishioners she worked hand in handwith to create the memorial garden. Their effort, she said, hasallowed the nine parishioners who died on 9/11 to live on throughthe stories of their lives.
I think my mother taught by example. Everything she believed,she put into the way she lived her life, LaVache said in a momentof remembrance.
The Garden of Hope is now the place where people go to preserveand honor life. It just took a life of its own, and beautifulthings were manifested, LaVache stressed.