Joe Montanez walked up to the first designated “Garden of Healing” in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, just outside the front doors of the St. Camillus Center for Pastoral Care near East LA.

He reached his hand out to touch the water pouring out of an installation feature known as “The Weeping Wall.”

Montanez said he needed to feel it. “I love the sound of water,” the 65-year-old said. “It creates peace.”

For those like Montanez directly impacted by sexual abuse in the Church, the establishment of this pacifying space has been an idea years in the making.  

Archbishop José H. Gomez, who presided over the garden’s Oct. 26 dedication, announced it would be the first of several, with the goal to have at least one in each of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ five pastoral regions. 

“This garden is a promise to our brothers and sisters: we will never forget, and you are never alone; we go with you, always,” said Archbishop Gomez during the dedication of the garden of healing. “We pray that in the silent beauty of this garden, many may come to hear God’s voice, to know his love and compassion, and his longing to comfort them, to strengthen them, and to make them whole again.”

Also present was regional Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell and retired Bishop Armando Ochoa of Fresno, originally an LA priest and later an auxiliary bishop here. He is a cousin of Montanez.

One of the most poignant elements of the garden are the presence of two signs, in English and Spanish, on each side of the weeping wall. 

“To you, who have been wounded by someone in our Church, who have had your innocence taken and your trust broken: I am deeply sorry,” reads the personal message from Archbishop Gomez visible to visitors. “We in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles want to walk with you and help you to heal. As you pray in this sacred space, please know that we, as Church, are praying with you. May you find hope in Jesus Christ, may the Blessed Virgin Mary be a mother to you, and may God give you peace.”

Full story at Angelus News.