Community News

Building a labyrinth of hope at St. Mark the Evangelist

Church collecting food to feed the poor


With a little help from community and Whole Foods volunteers, St. Mark the Evangelist Episcopal Church in North Bellmore recently constructed a “labyrinth of food” that was donated to a nearby food pantry.

More than 75 people gathered at the garden at St. Mark’s, behind the Bellmore Avenue church, to build a labyrinth that was lined with more than 200 cans and boxes of non-perishable foods on Aug. 14. The event not only helped to feed the hungry locally, but also brought people of all ages together to build a spiritual pathway.

Ann McPartlin, the St. Mark’s vestry warden, said officials have wanted to build a labyrinth since they opened the 500-square-foot organic garden in 2011. She said that Susan Salem, the garden manager and co-chairwoman, forged the partnership with Whole Foods to achieve their goal while giving back.

Salem’s friend, Claire Fastenau, is a prepared foods assistant team leader at Whole Foods. McPartlin explained that Fastenau and her coworkers complete a team-building exercise each year. This year Fastenau asked Salem how she and her team could help at the garden at St. Mark’s.

“That’s how ‘Building a Labyrinth of Food’ was born,” McPartlin said. “This was a perfect fit which helped fulfill our dream of a labyrinth at the garden, in addition to the Whole Foods team-building activity.”

Fastenau brought more than 40 members of her group, including Team Leader Jill Dethuin, to the garden to complete the labyrinth. McPartlin noted that local volunteers and members of Cub Scout Pack 590 from Massapequa also came to help build the labyrinth, a serpentine path similar to ones that people of various faiths have walked through in contemplation and prayer for hundreds of years.

Items that the volunteers donated, like all of the food harvested from the garden, was given to the Long Island Council of Churches’ Emergency Food Pantry in Freeport. The Rev. Wally Merna and other council members came from the pantry to pick up the food, and McPartlin said she was overwhelmed by the kindness of all who were involved with the project.

McPartlin said the result of the endeavor was far better than the organizers could have imagined. “All of us at the garden and all of the volunteers have been blessed to be a part of this glorious day,” she said. “We have once again used the beautiful land at St. Mark the Evangelist for the greater good. We are thrilled to now have a labyrinth, and we welcome everyone to come and walk in this wonderful place for their meditation, prayer and serenity.”