During the COVID-19 pandemic, when churches were closed and attending Mass in person was an impossibility, many of us had to find other ways of connecting with one another. Judy Mertz, a parishioner here at Queen of the Holy Rosary, found herself out in her garden during that time.
“I remained connected to my friends and neighborhood through my gardening,” she says. “I live in a walkable neighborhood so everybody was out and about. You kept your distance, but I met a lot of people.”
When Judy began hearing more about stewardship in our parish community, she began considering how she could contribute to the church.
“When Fr. Bill started to talk about stewardship, I said, ‘What can I do?’” Judy says. “There are over 50 ministries in Queen’s — surely I was qualified to do something. So I saw one, the Grounds Beautification. Because I know a bit about flowers, I thought I could do that.”
Judy joined the ministry and has been happily serving as a member ever since.
“It has been really a godsend for me,” she says. “I get to make things beautiful and I meet people who are on their way to Confession or going to the Adoration Chapel or doing things at the church. I meet a lot of people who aren’t part of the ministry, but are appreciative of God’s wonder.”
For Judy, the beauty of gardening is the idea that God has created each and every flower, plant, and shrub. She sees how God’s design is found in nature.
“Every flower looks different, smells different — every flower is a different color, a color you can’t paint or photograph,” she says. “It’s God’s colors. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
Judy has been a parishioner since 2001 but says she has been an active parishioner for the last several years. In addition to helping out with the Grounds Beautification ministry, Judy willingly serves by doing odd jobs or small tasks around the parish that others may not want to do. For her, when she gives to the community, she sees herself receiving back tenfold.
“And that makes it worth it,” she says. “When my mom died, I had a huge hole in my heart and I never thought it would be full again. But with the church and God, Fr. Bill, and all the parishioners, I’m just brimming over with the fullness of life. It just fills me up.”
When Judy was a young girl, she recalls seeing her grandmother share friendships with other churchgoers. Her grandmother’s friends would help one another in times of need, bringing food to one another when they were sick, for example. At the time, Judy didn’t understand how living like that would be fulfilling.
“Now I’m her age and I know what kind of a life that is,” she says. “It’s a wonderful, fulfilling life.”
Each morning, Judy prays “Thy will be done.” She tries to live out God’s will in daily life — from the moment her feet hit the floor until she goes to bed.
“It’s hard — sometimes I want to take control,” she says. “I know better, it doesn’t always work out right. My faith is strong and I really think, if you think about the plants, birds, and animals, each one of God’s creations — it is a flat-out miracle. You can’t deny the existence of God if you look at it that way.”