The Burr Oak Tree Transformation

In the summer of 2022, an ancient Burr Oak on our property lost a limb which, itself, was as big as a tree.  As the summer and fall progressed, we tried to save the wounded tree which was more than 350 years old. One morning, during a very severe wind storm, the oak moaned – a sound I will never forget- and  fell to the ground, leaving about 8 feet of stump.  The Sisters consulted and decided that a statue should be formed from our beloved Burr Oak tree.

The statue would be modeled on the Walking Madonna statue found on the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral in England. Because our tag line is “Women in Mission” we decided that our rendition of Mary on her way to visit Elizabeth would uniquely symbolize us as Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary.

In one beautiful weather week, Bud Hainzinger created a rendition of the Walking Madonna from our dearly loved Burr Oak tree. Two days were spent getting the trunk down to a size that was manageable for the work. It became clear that because of the decay of the stump, a 360-degree rendition would not be possible, so a plan for a relief instead of a statue ensued.

Mr. Hainzinger had mused on the creation over the winter. He had gone to the internet to view the original inspiration for the statue, and asked questions about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. (Would Mary be showing her pregnancy at that time?) He respectfully called the statue ‘her” and we conferred about direction (She’s going toward the road to serve beyond our grounds) and hand position (She’s striding but the hand cannot be too far away from the main body to protect it from the elements.) Looking at “her” we note that Mary’s features are that of an indigenous woman. That fact is totally in sync with the age of the oak, sprung from an acorn when native tribes were present on the land. I find the creation part of our dedication to the principles of Pope Francis’ message  Laudato Si – that of  integral ecology.

Our ancient Burr Oak now represents ministry, mission, and newly resurrected life. We hope to emulate ‘her” spirit all the days of our lives.

Carol Karnitsky, sscm
Province Leader