Rose thief puts a thorn in church’s side

Priest, parishioners rally to maintain memorial garden
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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A local church’s spirit still blooms despite dealing with a thorny theft. In two separate trips, an unknown thief recently unearthed several of the rose bushes planted in St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church memorial garden off Atwood Road in Auburn. Not only the crime but also the thief baffled church parishioners and staff because the rose stealer appeared to selectively choose the 10 bushes they took from a growing garden of 100. “It was almost mystical to see because there was no mess,” said Teri Bueb, one of about 20 volunteers who work on the garden. “It was someone who knows about roses.” The loss of the roses – which cost about $20 apiece and were re-donated by two parents – meant more than losing plants to the church, said Father Mike Carroll. “On the scale of things in life it’s small,” Carroll said. “At the same time you just don’t want the efforts of people and the dreams of people curtailed.” Carroll said longtime gardener Fernando Andrade, who began work on the project in September, suggested the garden. “I thought a rose garden would be a nice asset to the church,” Andrade said. Soil was brought in to make a three-level garden from flat ground and volunteers have labored to plant the bushes and maintain them. “It took a lot of preparation,” Andrade said. One of the finishing touches will be to add granite plaques bearing the names of the deceased loved ones of parishioners onto the concrete border of the garden. The money paid for the plaques will go to subsidize tuition for some students at St. Teresa’s school. In spite of the theft, church members are taking a look at the bright side. Carroll said the thefts spurred him to buy an updated security system that the property already needed. He said he is thankful that parishioners chipped in to replace the bushes and that volunteer efforts didn’t flag. “Out of every bad comes a little good,” Carroll said. Carroll added that if someone needed the bushes for money, they could’ve come inside the church instead. “We don’t have a ton of money to hand out but if somebody had a real need, we’ll be there,” Carroll said. “If somebody took them that didn’t need money, then shame on them.” A statue of St. Francis – the patron saint of animals and gardens – will oversee the garden when it’s complete. But he won’t be the only one watching over the beautified area that Carroll calls a “labor of love.” The church recently installed new video-surveillance cameras around its property, including one camera that beams directly onto the garden, which will keep a careful eye on the memorial. The cameras send a new message to the thief. “God is watching you,” Carroll warned. “But so are we.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.