Stations of the Cross grace grounds of Holy Family, thanks to youth

HILTON HEAD — James Rankin, an upcoming senior at Hilton Head High School, left his mark at Holy Family  Church, where he is a parishioner.

With some guidance and assistance, Rankin built an outdoor Stations of the Cross boardwalk on the grounds of Holy Family for parishioners and visitors to enjoy.

Father Hayden Vaverek, former pastor of Holy Family, blessed the stations after Mass on May 11. He called the new boardwalk “a wonderful gift of spiritual reflection for many generations to enjoy.”

Rankin said he took on the project as  a public service for the church and to complete his requirements for Eagle Scout. He joined the Boy Scouts of America at the age of six in Tiger Cubs and worked his way through each stage to the rank of Eagle. He has 31 merit badges.

 When it came time to consider ideas for his Eagle Scout project, Rankin said a lot of his friends were working on plans for the Coastal Discovery Museum. “I wanted to do something different,” he said.

He spoke with Father Vaverek about  the Outdoor Stations of the Cross at St. Francis by the Sea Church, and they decided a similar idea would be a nice addition to Holy Family.

The project began in 2006 as an idea to complement the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe already on the grounds. Over the past two years, the design received approval from the town of Hilton Head and the Boy Scouts of America. In the summer of 2007, more than $20,000 was raised, primarily through sponsorships of $1,000 per station and $500 per bench. Four benches are spaced between the 14 stations for visitors to sit, pray and reflect.

Construction started in the fall of 2007. The footings for the boardwalk and the posts were sunk, followed by placement of the joists and the boardwalk path. Then the housing for the stations was constructed and stained, and the tiles depicting each were  mounted. On April 19, 2008, all the stations were in position and the project was complete.

Rankin said he chose to do the stations because it was something parishioners and visitors can enjoy for many years. He has received a lot of praise for his work and is happy people seem to like and appreciate it. He admitted he felt a huge sense of relief when the two-year project was completed.

A South Carolina Junior Scholar, Rankin is consistently on the principal’s honor roll and is active in the high school NJROTC program. His goal upon graduation is to earn an appointment with the Naval Academy or to attend a high-ranking engineering college on an ROTC scholarship.