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Highlands School Dedicates Grotto on Our Lady’s Birthday
New Marian grotto was a community effort and a reminder of the power of Mary’s “yes.”

Fr Alphonse blesses the grotto
Fr Alphonse Nazarro blesses the new grotto.

September 15, 2009. Irving, Texas. On September 8th, the day the Church celebrates Mary´s birth, Highlands students, alumni, faculty, and founders, along with Legionary priests and consecrated members of Regnum Christi, gathered for the dedication and blessing of the school´s newly constructed Marian Grotto. 

The grotto came to life through donations of money, time, and talent from many members of the Highlands community.  The designer, Natalie Johnson, said it was "a project He wanted done."  Mother of four and volunteer at The Highlands, Natalie put her talents for art and landscaping at the service of her faith.

"This was a faith journey for so many of us,” she said. “It wasn´t me or any of us; it was the good Lord and Savior, because he wanted his sheep fed.  It was hair-raising, how God had His hand on the whole thing!" 

A symbolic space

Everything in the garden, from the plants to the layout of the statue of Mary, the cross,
Highlands new grotto
The new grotto was a community effort, and was designed by Highlands parent, Natalie Johnson.
and the image of the Eucharist in the center, has some symbolic meaning related to the life and passion of Jesus and Mary.

A cluster of yucca plants, also called the Lord´s Candle, stand at either end of the garden entrance.  Fragrant rosemary, which is thought to have provided shelter for the Holy Family on their flight to Egypt, can be found throughout the grounds. An iris named Mary´s Sword is situated between the statue of Mary and the cross a few yards away.

The pathway running through the grotto is paved with cobblestone, which is meant to be evocative of the streets of Jerusalem. There is a rosary within the cobblestone pathway, and an image of the Eucharist is placed in the center of the garden, surrounded by the names of the twelve apostles engraved on the stones. 

Mary´s back is to the cross, and she faces the risen Christ in the Eucharist. The water flowing from the cross represents the blood and mercy poured out for all through Christ´s ultimate sacrifice.  At the bottom of the cross there is the representation of the multiplication of the loaves. 

A reminder of
Mary and the cross
Everything in the garden has some symbolic meaning related to the life and passion of Jesus and Mary
Mary’s yes

"The image and garden surrounding Mary was created as an act of love and passion so members of the Highlands community may reflect on her love during their travels of the day," said Executive Director John Borley.

Father Alphonse Nazarro reminded the audience that Mary is famous for saying "yes" to God.  "Every time we say yes to God, He will transform it into something beautiful."  Before blessing the grotto and leading everyone present in a decade of the Rosary, he helped them to visualize the barren dusty spot before its transformation.

Landscaper James Scott with Blue Sky Landscape helped to make Natalie´s vision a reality.  However, the garden would not have been possible without the following financial donors who said "yes" without hesitation when asked for assistance:  Mr. and Mrs. Eduardo Diaz, Drs. Marco and Gabriella Navarro, Mr. and Mrs. Adrian Sada, Mrs. David Welty, and Mr. and Mrs. Mike Dimmel.  Also, $1000 of funds raised during a school boosterthon last year went towards the completion of the garden.

Since the Church has designated 2009 as the year of the Priest, The Highlands has offered this labor of love as a symbol that unites all suffering to the Holy Mother Church.  "We pray to the Holy Spirit to strengthen those who have said yes to the call to the priesthood-past, present, and to come."

About The Highlands School

Established in 1986, The Highlands School is a Catholic college-preparatory school.  Offering grades Pre-K through 12th, the mission of The Highlands School is the development of the whole person through Integral Formation®, consisting of a profound intellectual, human, apostolic, and spiritual formation.  Personalized attention from faculty, staff, and religious provides each student with the maximum opportunity for growth.

For more information about The Highlands School, visit the web site at



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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