This is the architect’s rendering of the Garden of Life to be built at Guelph, Ont.’s Basilica of Our Lady. Design courtesy of James Fryett Architect Inc.

Guelph’s Garden of Grace to be a place of healing

  • February 21, 2015

Guelph and Area Right to Life has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help build a place of healing and remembrance for parents who have lost a child in the pre-born and early stages of life.

The organization is raising funds for the Garden of Grace which will be placed in front of the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate. It will honour children lost in the womb to abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, etc.

Jakki Jeffs, president of Guelph and Area Right to Life, said the garden is not meant to be an “in-your face statement about the pro-life campaign.” Rather, it is about providing grieving parents a holy space where they can reconcile with their grief, heal and, hopefully, move on.

“There needs to be a space for the mothers, especially, to grieve,” said Jeffs. “No one (in society) likes to have conversations about these things. Something like abortion is supposed to be this quick and simple thing, but we have to consider the grief that comes afterwards.”

So far, Right to Life has raised $19,000 towards landscaping for the project and has purchased one of two statues for the garden. In January, it launched the crowdfunding campaign to raise more money to continue the project. According to its web page, the target goal of the campaign is $45,000, but as of mid-February had only raised $570.

“We haven’t had a huge response. Not enough people know about it yet,” said Jeffs.

Initial designs for the garden illustrate a circular walkway that leads from the city sidewalk to the church steps of the historic church that overlooks the city. The walkway will be decorated with flowers and lined with places for prayer and reflection.

The garden is designed by local landscape architect Brian McCulloch of James Fryett Architect Inc.

“The idea of the circular walkway is set up in such a way that you go the entire way,” said McCulloch. “Whether you’re coming in from the street or from the inside of the church, it will link some of the key elements of the church grounds.”

The main feature of the garden will be the statues by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, widely known for his provocative sculpture Jesus the Homeless. For the Garden of Grace, he has designed two statues. At the beginning of the path will be a statue of an angel grieving over an empty crib called I Knew You In the Womb. At the end of the path, close to the church steps, will be a statue of Jesus kneeling in prayer and cradling a small infant in His arms. This statue is entitled I Will Not Forget You.

“When I first saw these statues, I thought, ‘Oh my God, it really expresses what my heart was saying about the garden,’ ” said Jeffs. “When you see the statue of the angel, you would know that Heaven had grieved with you.”

The statue of Jesus has already been purchased and it sits in front of the Right to Life office until it can be moved in the spring. Purchasing the statue of the angel and further construction of the garden is on hold until more money is raised.

“(The garden) will happen even if it takes a year or more,” said Jeffs. “It’s a great project and an important project.”

The Garden of Grace crowdfunding campaign runs until March 4. Donations can be made at

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