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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Children and parishioners plant woodland oasis at rear of Wirral church

 

Children and parishioners have planted about 60 trees at the rear of a Wirral church to create a woodland area of prayer and reflection.

The Woodland Trust gave the cherry, rowan and birch saplings to St Michael and All Angels Church, Woodchurch, after parishioner Steve Goulding came up with the idea of developing an open space into a community asset.

The trees were arranged in a semi-circle over two days with the first 20 planted by a group of children from St Michael’s and All Angels Catholic Primary, with the help of Deacons John Birch and Pat Regan.

The remaining trees were planted out by adult volunteers of the parish the following day.

Fr Chris Matthews, the parish priest of St Michael’s and St Joseph’s, Birkenhead, said the idea was consistent with the duty to care for the environment expressed by Pope Francis in Laudato Si, his 2015 encyclical.

Fr Matthews said: “What we wanted to do was to provide a space which is attractive and accessible to the parish community and the school.

“We want to screen off the sound of the motorway, attract wildlife and perhaps build a prayer trail.

“Woodchurch has always been a bit of a garden estate and it is about maintaining and enhancing that.”

He added: “It is about engagement with the local community and school for the parish and leaving a legacy for the future.”

Stacey Clark, a teacher at the school, said the children were chosen from Year 1 class right through to Year 6.

“They have loved it, being able to do something to help the school,” she said.

“They have been excited to have a special job and a sense of responsibility. It is nice to be able to do something different – a hands-on learning experience.

“To be outdoors and improving the environment, that’s really special to the children.”

Mr Goulding said he came up with the idea after seeing on television that the Woodland Trust was offering trees to suitable projects.

“For ages this space hasn’t been used and I thought it might be a good idea to create a quiet space for people to come and sit,” he said.

“I spoke to Fr Chris and he agreed and we applied. Then I forgot about it. A month later I received an email saying we have been successful.”

He said there were lots of ideas about how the young woodland might be developed, adding that among them might be the possibility of outdoor Masses.

He said: “We have to wait for the trees to grow but it will be nice for people in the future.”