NORTH EASTON, Massachusetts — The Museum of Family Prayer in North Easton is now accepting entries for its second annual Mary Garden Contest.
The contest began in 2020 to help families “find peace while quarantined at home,” said a news release announcing this year’s competition. “The response was heartwarming. … A Mary Garden is a great activity to share the Catholic faith in a joyful and simple way, especially as families and individuals continue to watch the garden grow.”
Participants can send in pictures of the Mary Garden they have created in their home or school.
The Museum of Family Prayer encourages the creation of all sorts of gardens — traditional outdoor gardens, spaces with plants and flowers on porches, prayer spaces inside of apartments, or any sacred space used by individuals and families to pray to Mary. A Mary Garden usually contains a statue or image of Mary.
Entries for the contest will be divided into two groups: Private/family gardens and community/church gardens. The deadline for entries is July 26. Entries can be submitted at https://www.museumoffamilyprayer.org/mary-garden-contest2021. More details about the contest can be found at the website.
“Building and tending to a Mary Garden is like welcoming the Holy Family into your home. It is a way to express, in a physical sense, your understanding of Jesus’ love for his mother,” Holy Cross Father Jim Phalan, national director of Family Rosary, said in a statement.
“As you create your Mary Garden, you can rest assured that Our Lady is pleased; seeing the work of your humble hands, as her heart swells knowing her desire to bring us closer to Jesus is being manifested,” he added.
Winning entries will receive prizes and be showcased on the website of the Museum of Family Prayer, which is a member ministry of Holy Cross Family Ministries.
The umbrella organization, sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, also includes Family Rosary, Family Theater Productions, the Father Peyton Family Institute and CatholicMom.com.
What are now several ministries began with the ministry of Irish-born Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton (1909-1992). His motto was: “The family that prays together stays together.” Father Peyton, a media pioneer, is a candidate for sainthood and was declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis in 2017.
The Museum of Family Prayer is dedicated to his work to help families pray together with an interactive experience of prayer using digital media for the entire family to experience together.
The purpose of the museum’s contest is to help families pray in their Mary Garden “to connect to God in new ways, and to receive his blessings; giving individuals and families the strength and fortitude needed to handle new situations, and to love one another more gently and with compassion,” the news release said.
“Mary Gardens are a devotion born in medieval times: enclosed gardens with an image of Blessed Virgin in the middle, surrounded by all sorts of flowers, herbs and decorations to celebrate Our Lady,” Father Phalan noted. “Family is one of our greatest gifts from God. Why not pray together in a garden? It just might bring new joy and blessings to your family!”
The Museum of Family Prayer will award the top-10 Mary Gardens based on criteria such as colors, coordination, usage of flowers, creativity and overall design. Winners will receive a DVD of “PRAY: The Story of Patrick Peyton,” a gift card, and an assortment of gardening-themed and Mary-themed items.
Prayer resources, gardening ideas, and directions are all available as free downloads, on the Museum website: www.MuseumOfFamilyPrayer.org.