Each year at Easter, we reflect on the symbols of new life that remind us of the first Easter Sunday. This year, we reflect on new life found in the garden, especially the flowers found on many altars each Easter. In the early days of Maryknoll, the Sisters kept a large garden on the New York campus, growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Flowers like lillies, daffodils, and hyacinth were included in the Sisters’ gardens, and likely adorned the altars in the Maryknoll chapels come Easter morning.

Maryknoll Sisters in the garden at the Sisters’ Center, 1937

Maryknoll Sisters in the garden at the Sisters’ Center, 1957

In many of her letters, Mother Mary Joseph Rogers associated the renewal and joy of the garden with Easter, drawing us out of Lent and into the sunshine. As she said in 1933, “We are all looking forward to spring, for we are going to make a raid on our woods and try to clean them up while the ground is soft… Sr. Aloysius is our gardener-in-chief and we expect lovely plots about the house and in the cloister.” The Sisters gardens and Easters got even better, and in 1947 Mother wrote to the Sisters, “Blessed Happy Easter to each and all!… About us all is luxuriant: beauty and color and fragrance speak everywhere of God’s love and goodness.”

In the spirit of Mother Mary Joseph, happy Easter and happy gardening to you!