Magnificat high school seeks to make its campus sacred ground 

Like the women who founded their school, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio sees every inch of their campus as an opportunity to glorify God and his Creation. 

So when they trained their sights on a small grassy knoll between their tennis courts, a beehive and a hoop house, they made big plans for a pollinator and sensory garden. 

The sensory components, such as waterfalls, artwork and sounds, will draw visitors in to explore the gardens, said Karen Tigue, Magnificat’s horticulture manager and head of its Seeds for Service club. The pollinating flowers will create a nourishing space for bees, birds, moths and other animals. 

“It can be both an outdoor classroom and a healing garden to reduce stress,” Tigue said. 

With the help of a $1,000 grant from the Victory Nolls Fund, issued through Catholic Climate Covenant, Tigue and her team of 14 students at the all-girls school began planning this summer, clearing land and learning about landscape design and native plant species that thrive in the climate of north central Ohio. 

“We are really grateful to the Noll Sisters for catapulting this project,” Tigue said. 

During the summer, students visited gardens and learned about incorporating sensory elements. Thus far, they’ve completed accessible walking paths and the central garden, said Tigue.  Like many successful gardens, the project will take time. 

“It’s a good lesson for the girls that you can’t just snap your fingers and it’s done,” she said. “But if we teach them to love and care for the world around them, they can use those skills for the rest of their life.” 

Perhaps the most important lesson Tigue hopes to impart is that, if they want to get something done, they need to roll up their sleeves and make it happen. “I tell them ‘Stop following me. I want to follow you!’” 

Seeds for Service grounds its work in Catholic theology, with lessons on Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. The club’s tagline is “Care for Our Common Home.” 

Tigue, a graduate of Magnificat, said she has been inspired by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary’s home campus, Villa Maria, which includes a 759-acre farm that produces food for local food banks, shelters and parishes.  

“It really is sacred ground,” said Tigue, who has taken students on retreats that combine farm work and spirituality at Villa Maria. “That’s what we want to do here: Create a mini Villa Maria.” 

When its sensory/pollinator garden is completed, Magnificat High School will one step closer to that mission. 

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