January 18, 2013

Community helps bring Eagle Scout’s prayer garden project to life

Father Juan Valdes, administrator at St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, blesses the new prayer garden on Dec. 2 on the parish’s grounds during a dedication ceremony. He is assisted by Eagle Scout Josh Hublar, a member of the parish, who built the prayer garden for his Eagle Scout project. (Submitted photo by Leslie Lynch)

Father Juan Valdes, administrator at St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, blesses the new prayer garden on Dec. 2 on the parish’s grounds during a dedication ceremony. He is assisted by Eagle Scout Josh Hublar, a member of the parish, who built the prayer garden for his Eagle Scout project. (Submitted photo by Leslie Lynch)

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

LANESVILLE—Josh Hublar of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville almost quit Boy Scouts when he was 14.

“I was tired of Scouting,” he said. “It wasn’t fun.”

But Scouting is Scout-driven, not adult-led. He woke up one morning and realized the responsibility for change rested squarely on his shoulders.

“I can’t sit here and keep complaining about how things in my troop are going. I might as well step up,” he thought.

Josh ran for and won a leadership role in his troop, and the outcome of that decision changed his life.

The next few years sped by in a flurry of school, Scouts, family and Church activities, and Josh earned all the requirements for Eagle Scout except for the culminating project.

His mother, Donna Hublar, urged him to complete the process.

“I told him he’d regret not earning Eagle rank,” she said, “but that he’d never regret getting it.”

But no projects piqued his interest—not that they were unworthy ideas, but because they came pre-packaged, needing only a body to execute them. He wanted to do something that would leave a lasting impression—a project over which he would have total control and a weighty responsibility.

On a Scouting trip, he walked along a trail built by another Scout as his Eagle project, and the seed was planted.

The opportunity for quiet, solitude and reflection is important to Josh, and he began to think about a place “to look over Lanesville, to sit and relax, and be by yourself for a little bit.”

The idea of a prayer garden was born.

St. Mary Church is situated at the top of a hill overlooking the town, and the parish cemetery rises on a gentle knoll above the church.

He could visualize a stone grotto at the base of the cemetery, easily accessible to parishioners from the parking lot.

Paving the floor of the grotto with individualized, engraved stones would create a link between parishioners, loved ones they wished to honor and future visitors to the space.

Josh presented a plan to the parish council then waited eight months for approval. When it finally came, he sprang into action.

In order to meet the requirements for Eagle rank, the project not only had to be completed, Josh also had to go before two review boards before he turned 18. He had just celebrated his 17th birthday, and the clock was ticking.

Josh knew that he wanted granite instead of paver stones for its enduring qualities, and by then he had researched the basics of the construction process. Numerous companies stood ready to donate supplies, but the project’s cost skyrocketed with the choice of granite.

He launched a “Buy a Stone” campaign at the parish then lost sleep over the possibility that his family would end up bearing the cost.

“I didn’t want to put that burden on my parents,” he said. “I’ve never been so stressed in my life.”

He was ecstatic when Rena Phillips, office manager at St. Mary Parish, called and told him that enough money had been raised to begin the project.

Soon, there were other challenges.

Groundbreaking day on June 2 turned into bedrock-breaking day, which then turned into heavy equipment-breaking day. Even heavier equipment was required to get the job done. The intense labor of erecting a retaining wall happened to coincide with the hottest day of the year.

Josh despaired several times, afraid that the project had failed before it had a chance to start.

But with the encouragement of his dad, Rob Hublar, and guidance from parishioners Jerry Philpot and David Fulkerson, the prayer garden began to take shape.

Over the next few months, the foundation for the inscribed granite was prepared and final funds were raised.

A three-week delay on delivery of the granite—which came from South Dakota via an inexplicable detour through Canada—created more pressure.

The stone finally arrived, but it was already October, and Josh’s 18th birthday was on Nov. 7.

“I was able to squeeze it all in, and we got it [the prayer garden] done two weeks before my birthday,” he said.

The dual boards of review quickly followed, and Josh accomplished his goal with mere days to spare.

Parishioners supported the project with enthusiasm, ordering just shy of 150 engraved stones and raising nearly $12,000.

Eleven businesses donated material, equipment, time and labor, and 41 people volunteered more than 900 hours in sweat equity—literally—during one of the hottest Hoosier summers on record.

Josh recognizes the impact of the community’s support in bringing his vision to life.

“I couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help,” he said.

His Eagle Scout award has already changed his future.

Like many high school students, Josh hadn’t paid much attention to his grades until he got closer to graduation and began looking at college entrance requirements.

His grade point average on its own wasn’t enough to gain admittance to the school of his choice.

But Indiana State University officials in Terre Haute gave him a chance to answer three more questions before they decided on his admission application.

Had he done any community service projects? On what does he base his leadership? What has made a big impact in his life?

“Shoot, I might as well start talking about Eagle Scout,” Josh said.

Based on his response, Indiana State University, where he plans to study automotive engineering, accepted him.

“Everything’s falling together for me,” he said. “I was so used to everything falling apart while I was building the project.”

The prayer garden was dedicated on Dec. 2, 2012.

Josh, wearing his new Eagle patch on his Scout uniform, assisted as Father Juan Valdes, the parish’s administrator, prayed for God’s blessing on the site.

Many people lingered afterward to view the stones they had commissioned.

Josh Hublar dreamed big, learned to ask for help and left this legacy for St. Mary Parish in Lanesville—“A place for prayer, meditation, silence and reflection. A place to remember those whom we love. A place to gather as one.”

(Leslie Lynch is a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville.)

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