Toms River Eagle Scout aids Catholics' walk with Mary
By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
With the completion of his Eagle Scout project, Eric Knudsen has enabled faithful in St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, to walk and pray the Rosary one giant step at a time.
Knudsen, a senior in Donovan Catholic High School, created a 35-foot-by-25-foot concrete and stone Rosary walk on the grounds of the church, which shares a campus with the school.
In order to earn the distinction of Eagle Scout, a Scout must demonstrate leadership while successfully completing a project beneficial to the community. Wanting to create what he called “a permanent fixture, an expression of faith,” Knudsen reached out to Father Scott Shaffer, St. Joseph pastor, who suggested a Rosary walk be constructed to the left of the church’s front entrance. Knudsen began the ambitious project in mid-July.
The Scout, who serves as an usher at his home parish, St. Justin the Martyr, Toms River, visited home and garden centers and reaped both donated and purchased supplies such as gravel and equipment to clear the area. He enlisted the help of fellow Scouts from Troop 29, along with his parents, Tom and Ann, and twin brother, John, to rip up the sod and outline the future Rosary walk.
Finding just the right stones to represent the Hail Mary prayer beads proved to be a challenge, however. Knudsen thought 12-inch pavers might fit the design, but just the right type proved elusive. Enter the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”
Knudsen’s team decided to create the Hail Mary stepping stones by using a long, circular tube and cutting it down to 2-inch pieces. The crew then poured concrete into the homemade forms, dyed the 56 round “beads” a terra cotta color and surrounded them with white gravel.
“It was a lot of work,” Knudsen said.
The Scout used gray blocks to represent the “Our Father” prayer and found a mold online for the Cross. The parish completed the finishing touches with landscaping and installed a statue of Our Lady of Grace. The faith-filled project was completed just in time for the parish’s Rosary Rally and public procession Oct. 7.
Father Shaffer expressed his delight and thanks for the undertaking, noting the Scout and his assistants “were pretty industrious, and it looks great.”