The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 5, 2013

Person of the Week: Welcoming sight: Teen chooses Mount Assisi for Eagle Scout project

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — A popular place in Loretto to pray and observe the beauty of God’s hands is even more popular now thanks to an Eagle Scout.

Chad Fitzsimmons refurbished the entranceway to Mount Assisi, the former Schwab Estate in Loretto, last year for his Eagle Scout project.

The religious site consists of a number of gardens and is home to two shrines – Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Loretto.

Mount Assisi, owned and overseen by the Franciscan Friars in Loretto, is open to the public from sunrise to sundown seven days a week.

“The entire area (entranceway) needed to be spruced up,” said Chad, a member of Troop 2071, chartered by the Cresson Community Sportsmen’s Association.

“When I started working on it, newlyweds would come to the gardens to have wedding photographs taken,” he said.

Now the area looks much nicer, said the freshman at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School.

Another reason to conduct the project was to keep the appearance of his hometown nice for residents and students at St. Francis University, located in Loretto, he said.

Chad appreciates all the support he received for the project.

Giving him advice for the project were the

Rev. Malachi Van Tassell of the Franciscan Friars in Loretto and and Ron Riner, the caretaker at Mount Assisi.

Assisting Chad with the project were his parents, Jeff and Susan Fitzsimmons; his uncle, Collins Fitzsimmons; his aunt, Karen Boland; his cousins, Jake and Luke Driskel; fellow Scouts, Drew Crusciel and Neil Sutton; and four troop leaders, Brian and Diana Gresko and Brian and Cindy Jo Lechene.

For his efforts, Chad is the Person of the Week.

Van Tassell said people come to pray at the shrines and enjoy the gardens, not only from the Loretto area, but also from as far as Pittsburgh and Maryland.

“He did a top-notch job,” Van Tassell said about Chad’s effort. “We’re appreciative of a group project that he orchestrated.

“I said to Chad that by you doing this project, you are helping to make us look good.

“He created a visually pleasing first impression of our gardens.”

Van Tassel said Chad used a power washer to restore the stone wall that borders the parking lot.

“That was a huge project,” he said.

Chad also trimmed the overgrown‚Äątrees and plants by the greenhouse, he said. Chad then landscaped and highlighted that area by installing decorative chains.

Chad also restored a flower bed in that area and planted new flowers, he said.

“The Franciscans are very happy for Chad that he is now an Eagle Scout, and we are honored that he asked to do his project on our property,” Van Tassel said.

Brian Gresko, Chad’s scoutmaster, said Chad’s project evolved into much more than originally anticipated.

“It made the area look much nicer,” he said.

“Everybody would park their cars and go right into the gardens. Now they have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the entranceway. It’s now a focal point.”

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