Christ Church honors longtime member with garden dedication

Christ Church honors longtime member with garden dedication

Ninety-three-year-old Elaine DaRosa, a longtime member of Christ Church, in Lincoln, is honored during ceremonies dedicating an arbor in the memorial garden in her name. She is founder of the memorial garden, which is on the church grounds. At right, The Rev. Veronica Tierney officiates at the ceremony. (Breeze photos by Charlie Lawrence)

LINCOLN – As a young girl, Elaine (Duarte) DaRosa, now 93, would glance back and look for her father while she sat in the pews at Christ Church in Lincoln after Sunday school class.

“He’d be watching me to make sure that I behaved,” she said with a chuckle, explaining that he always chose the same seat for each service.

Since her days as a young child, when she stood on the kneeling pews in order to see, DaRosa has committed much of her time to the church, serving on various committees, leading and teaching Sunday school and developing the memorial garden on the church grounds. Recently, the congregation decided it was time to give back to her.

An arbor at the church’s memorial garden, an area dedicated to the interment of cremated remains, was dedicated last Sunday, Sept. 10, in DaRosa’s honor.

DaRosa, a Lincoln native who was a member of the church’s altar guild for 75 years, described the garden area as a spot with a calming atmosphere.

“The serenity that is there is felt by everyone,” said DaRosa, who now lives in North Kingstown.

Though the garden beside the church at 1643 Lonsdale Ave. is next to a busy street in Lincoln, DaRosa said, “When you sit there, you don’t even hear the traffic.”

It was her idea in the 1990s to create this place that she and parish administrator Kimberly Allard called a peaceful spot to reflect. DaRosa traveled around the state, taking photos and documenting details about other memorial gardens in Rhode Island, and proposed the idea to the congregation, which DaRosa said enthusiastically supported the project.

The garden was officially dedicated almost 20 years ago, on Nov. 22, 1998, as sacred ground, DaRosa said. More than 100 engraved bricks are installed at the spot, dedicated to congregation members, and several people are interred there, she explained. She knew each of them.

DaRosa met congregation members while attending Christ Church, but also while holding several roles at the church.

She served on the “Mr. and Mrs. Club” committee, a group that organized trips for couples to get together, and on the altar guild. She was the superintendent and a former teacher at the church’s Sunday school in the 1950s and 1960s, a junior warden and served on the vestry as well.

DaRosa was confirmed at Christ Church, and later married her husband, Jack, at the church in 1941. Each of her three daughters were baptized, confirmed and married at the church, she said, and one of her daughters, Valerie Breault of Lincoln, still attends services there.

Four generations of DaRosa’s family have been involved at Christ Church, she explained – she has eight grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Though she lives in the South County area now, DaRosa still makes the trip to Lincoln for special occasions and holidays, like last Sunday’s service that was followed by a ceremony in the memorial garden, dedicating the arbor in DaRosa’s name.

Two teak benches provide a place for people to sit and reflect, DaRosa said, and were installed in memory of loved ones by Donna MacPherson and Irene Soar. A third bench, made of granite, was installed by Barbara and Jim Semenkow, DaRosa said, in memory of Barbara’s brother.

The area is dotted with flowering shrubs and trees, installed by loved ones at the church, DaRosa said, and the creation of the garden was made possible after a committee was formed to see the project through.

Landscape architect Andrew Schlenker, George Smith, a general contractor, Steven Popovich of Lincoln Gardens, Jay Moore, Gladys Baker and Walter Scott were all members of the board, DaRosa said, and David O’Connor and Jim and Carolyn Woods have been an integral part of maintaining the garden, planting new flowers and cutting and fertilizing the lawn area, DaRosa said, since she retired from her role with the church.

“I hope people continue to put in memorial bricks, because I would hate for some child, becoming an adult ... walking out there one day and saying, ‘Gee, where is my grandmother? She was here all her life,’” DaRosa said.

She said she hopes the garden is maintained the same way for future generations, and encouraged everyone to request an engraved brick, whether it bear the date of a marriage, honor children or parents, or memorialize someone.

Upon hearing that the area would be dedicated in her honor, DaRosa said she was overwhelmed.

Allard said DaRosa is always happy to be at the church to see her friends, and always does so with a smile.

She said she’s hoping that with this dedication, DaRosa “will understand how much she’s loved here,” and that all of the work she’s done is cherished.

Elaine DaRosa is overcome with emotion during the dedication ceremony.