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Eagle Scout gives Oxford parish a place to pray for the sick

Posted By November 14, 2014 | 3:45 pm | Local
Andrew Ravenelle adds shrine to Chapel in the Woods at St. Ann Parish
Andrew Ravenelle adds shrine to Chapel in the Woods at St. Ann Parish

By Tanya Connor

NORTH OXFORD – A confirmation interview led to an Eagle Scout project which just turned St. Ann Parish’s outdoor chapel into a special place to pray for the sick.
This is the story of the parish’s new shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, dedicated to a recently deceased parishioner and Knight of Columbus.
Oct. 25 found 16-year-old Andrew Ravenelle, of Troop 147 in Oxford, overseeing the work of adults and youth helping with his Eagle Scout project in the woods behind his church.
Later in the day his pastor, Father Michael N. Lavallee, blessed the fruits of their labors: a new shrine in the pre-existing outdoor chapel. He dedicated it to James Cashman, a parishioner and member of Father Dennis Rocheford Council #4241 of the Knights of Columbus.
Mr. Cashman did much for the chapel’s upkeep, according to Andrew’s father, David Ravenelle, also a member of the council. Father Lavallee, council chaplain, said Mr. Cashman’s widow, Deborah Cashman, and one of their daughters, attended the dedication.
“We’re hoping that this shrine will be a place where anyone can come and pray for the sick, because Our Lady of Lourdes is patroness of the sick” and her feast day, Feb. 11, is World Day of the Sick, Father Lavallee said.
“Every single day people talk to me about people who have cancer, people hospitalized. I wanted to provide a place in the local community where people can bring their needs to the Lord through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes,” he said.
Father Lavallee said Andrew’s Eagle Scout project came out of his confirmation interview this spring.
“It’s remarkable what’s happened since then,” he said. “He’s shown remarkable leadership in trying to pull this together.” He said the project shows much faith. Andrew is one of the parish’s sacristans; he helps prepare for Mass.
“Maybe his example can inspire other young people to do similar things in their parishes,” Father Lavallee said.
When preparing for the sacrament of confirmation, Andrew said, Father Lavallee “asked me what activities I do. I told him I’m on the swim team and (in) ski club and theater” at school. He said he also noted that he is in Life Scouts and wanted to become an Eagle Scout as soon as he found a project. He’d made calls about possible projects around town, but there was not enough to them to make them “Eagle-worthy,” he said.
Father Lavallee told him he wanted a Lourdes grotto in the outdoor chapel and Kelly Chandley said she wanted a place to pray for the sick, Andrew said. Ms. Chandley, a confirmation catechist last spring, interviewed the candidates with Father Lavallee.
Father Lavallee said he wanted the outdoor chapel to be a place where anyone could go to pray. There are no longer Masses there, as they are to be celebrated in a church, he said, but he wanted to make use of the spot for which parishioners had given money.
Father James M. Steuterman, pastor of St. Richard of Chichester Parish in Sterling, had set up the chapel several years ago when he was St. Ann’s pastor, Mr. Ravenelle said. Later the Knights installed Stations of the Cross there, and they continue to clean up the area each spring, he said.
He said Father Lavallee was excited about the Eagle Scout project, which excited those working on it.
“It’s not just a run-of-the-mill project,” the proud father said. “It’s got a spiritual component.”
Andrew said he was confirmed in May, and continued pursuing the idea that arose in his confirmation interview. He had to get approval for it as an Eagle Scout project, and get the material he needed.
Robbins Garden Center in Oxford gave him mulch and crushed stone and a discount on plants, he said, adding, “I want to thank them for that.” He bought a grotto online, and coordinated the work: painting the grotto, cleaning the statue that had been elsewhere in the chapel, and putting in stones.
“I wanted to find a project that was meaningful to me, something that I could look back on and say, ‘Wow! I did that!’” Andrew said. He said this one has a connection to his church, though not much of a connection to his own concerns.
“It’s for the parish,” he said of the place to pray for the sick. “My family has good health.” But, he said, “I made it; I’m going to go up there and enjoy it.”
Father Lavallee said he wants to erect a sign on the church lawn welcoming people to stop at the shrine, publicize it in the media and have an official opening with a reception in the spring.

He said he also wants to get a statue of St. Bernadette and a kneeler for it.
Speaking of the project he said, “I really think it is from the Lord.”