Marion mission breaks ground on new Marian garden

Church of the Infant Jesus Mission, Marion, Father Marcian Thet Kyaw

Church of the Infant Jesus Mission, Marion, Father Marcian Thet KyawMARION—Church of the Infant Jesus Mission will soon have its own outdoor space dedicated to Mary.

Groundbreaking for the mission’s new rosary garden was held Sept. 14 and work should be completed by the first week of December. Members hope to have the garden formally dedicated in January.

Father Marcian Thet Kyaw, who is administrator of the mission and St. Louis Church in Dillon, said the rosary garden is part of his goal to increase devotion to Mary.

“My belief as a priest is that whenever there is a devotion to the Blessed Mother, there will be unity in the church and among the people there,” Father Kyaw said in a phone interview with The Miscellany. “I think people’s spirituality will grow through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Wherever I am assigned, I try to promote devotion to her.”

Father Kyaw worked with members of St. Ann Church in Florence to build a rosary garden while he was assigned there, and said he started thinking about a similar project in Marion when he arrived in 2008. He envisioned a pilgrimage site for people searching for a place to pray and meditate. But the mission, with a membership of 84 households, had no extra money for the project.

Then, Father Kyaw said he received a phone call from a couple in Rock Hill who wanted to provide financial assistance to the mission. The donors, who want to remain anonymous, purchased a statue of Mary for the garden, plus construction of the statue’s pedestal, estimated at about $40,000.

“This was a great miracle,” Father Kyaw said.

He said the Rock Hill donors also offered to pay for landscaping, but he decided church members should take that project on themselves.

“I wanted the parishioner participation so they could feel like this was their project,” he said. Members raised more than $6,000 for landscaping in late October and early November.

The garden’s centerpiece will be a six-foot statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which was carved from white Carrera marble and is currently en route to Marion by ship. Father Kyaw said it should arrive by the end of November.

Sally Alegria, secretary for the Legion of Mary at Church of the Infant Jesus, said they hope to put a trellis above the statue of Mary and plant roses or another flowering vine.

The garden will also eventually have trees, including oaks, and shrubbery. Alegria and Father Kyaw said a well was dug to provide irrigation for the greenery.

Once the garden is completed, Father Kyaw said he hopes it will offer church members and visitors a quiet place to pray, meditate and focus on devotion to Mary. He plans to offer benediction there, recite the rosary and hold other celebrations on Marian feast days.

Alegria said she hopes the garden will increase devotion to Mary, and bring the already close-knit parish even closer together.

“My husband and I have been members here since 1986, and when we travel and come back to Church of the Infant Jesus, it’s just like coming home,” she said. “Everybody cares about everybody here.”