Two teens from the Boy Scout Troop at the St. Angela Merici Church in Florissant recently helped the Pallottine Renewal Center replace two of its most visible and sacred landmarks.
In order to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts must design, direct and implement a project that benefits the community.
Under the supervision of Scoutmaster Joe Brady and the troops’ parents, Bryce Gibbs chose to replace the retreat center’s Stations of the Cross while Chris Hedleskey’s project replaced the two benches at the retreat’s outdoor Meditation Mound.
Stations of the Cross refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. Gibbs’ project included replacing the decaying wood crosses on the 83-acre property with new crosses. He added engraved roman numerical numbers with pictorial houses at each station.
“My troop was looking for projects and we found Pallottine,” Gibbs said. “They had some projects that needed to be done so the Stations of the Cross project seemed liked a good one to do.”
Gibbs said he began the project by designing a model of each cross along with a weather-proof box to contain the plaque displaying the image depicted for each station. He then created a list of materials needed and organized volunteers from the troop to install them. Gibbs said it took approximately a month from conception of the project to installing the crosses.
“The hardest part was organizing it and getting the materials,” Gibbs said. “We did have some of the materials donated so that helped.”
Hedleskey’s project involved removing the previous benches in the outdoor Meditation Mound area and replacing them with stronger and longer-lasting benches.
“The crosses that Bryce replace were rotten oak and were just waist high,” Hedleskey said. “They were in really bad shape. I chose to do the benches because they were in equally bad shape. The original benches were wire-like and rusty. I wouldn’t have sat on them and I only weigh 140 pounds. They would move when you sat on them. Pallottine has some elderly nuns and they needed a bench to support them.”
Hedleskey designed the benches with that in mind, adding a handicapped-accessible bar for assistance in sitting.
“They are tough and sturdy,” Hedleskey said. “The new benches are made of red cedar wood. My dad, brother and I went to a lumber mill the week before we installed the benches and took the wood to our house so I could sand and stain it. That way, we could take the finished wood the next weekend and immediately put the benches together in one day. We used galvanized steel posts that the wood bench is screwed into and then cemented the posts into the ground.”
The troop worked all day on a Saturday to build and install both benches. Hedleskey said working with the cement was a challenge.
“We used 2,000 pounds of concrete for the two benches,” Hedleskey said. “We used the backs of the troop to mix the concrete in wheelbarrows. The day of the installation, we had six to eight youths and four to five adults working. It was pretty tough but we got the project done in one day.”
Hedleskey said he chose the bench project because he was working with limited time.
“The Eagle Scout project has to be done before you turn 18,” Hedleskey said. “I started thinking about the project in December and I only had three months to complete it because I turned 18 in early March. I wanted a project where I could hunker down and do it all in a short amount of time.”
Hedleskey said one of the proudest moments was when he returned to Pallottine and saw someone sitting on the bench.
“That really made me feel good that someone was enjoying what I had done,” Hedleskey said.
Gibbs and Hedleskey said the entire troop has plans to help with other projects around Pallottine in the future.
“These were the two big projects but there are other projects planned to help them,” Hedleskey said. “I know there is another bench project but they probably won’t use the wheelbarrow method to mix the concrete.”
Pallottine’s staff is grateful to the teens and their troop for the upgrades.
“They did a beautiful job of replacing the Stations of the Cross and the benches that were in disrepair,” said Marillyn Webb, executive director of the Pallottine Renewal Center. “We offer an open invitation to the community to come out and visit our beautiful 83 acres tucked away in North County. We encourage everyone to walk the stations and meditate on our benches for a quiet respite and retreat from their hectic lives.”
This summer, Pallottine is offering a Staycation for the community. Find more information here.
Participating businesses and organizations have come together to reveal sites that showcase the pride of North County. This weekend getaway offers guests the opportunity to proudly share in the heritage, culture and community of the region.
Pallottine also offers a Summer Speakers Series Make this Summer a time to refresh your spirit, reflect with God and renew your faith at Pallottine Renewal Center. Enjoy our excellent hospitality, delicious food and beautiful grounds while hearing informative and inspiring speakers.