When you stand in a pew at the St. Joseph-St. Lazarus Church, the room is quiet and sanctum with warm, rich colors. You can smell a hint of almost-dry paint on the blush, marble-veneered columns that still have painters tape protecting the wainscot. If you tilt your head back to see the elevated ceilings, there are golden, floral details on the arches, and tiny, circular stained glass windows at the very top.
But the exterior grounds of the East Boston parish are not quite as stunning, which is why Frank Mazzuchelli decided to renovate the church’s landscaping for his Eagle Scout Service Project. This substantial undertaking is a culmination of Frank’s Eagle Scout candidacy training.
The project must exhibit leadership, “help your community; it has to be big enough that it has a noticeable change, and be something that will last,” says the 17-year-old.
Frank’s goal is to completely clean the grounds: strip the paint from the doors that lead into the St. Lazarus and repair them, fix the chipped statues and set up three prayer areas around them, plant new shrubbery and flowers, and lay down fresh mulch.
So far, Frank, his family, and a handful of volunteers have scraped the cracked paint from the parking lot fence and are in the process of re-painting it. They picked up beer bottles, cigarettes, and a syringe that former neighbors left behind in their backyard near the church.
Frank’s next plan is to plant mulberry bushes. He originally intended to plant them by the St. Lazarus statue, but upon digging, found a sidewalk under the base of the statue. And when Frank’s father and brother were shoveling and moving dirt on top of the hill, they discovered a 1940s military uniform button, and a worn nickel from ’45.
The idea of cleaning the church grounds came from his mother, Roseann, who had attended a funeral at the St. Lazarus and was taken aback by its disrepair. The beautiful interior and welcoming people did not match the woeful exterior. She approached Frank a year and a half ago with the idea because he was searching for a “worthwhile project.” Finding the endeavor compelling, he visited the location, took pictures and notes, and sought advice from Father Kowalczyk, the CCD and Choir Directors, and maintenance about how he could make a lasting difference.
“I’m so proud of my son,” says Roseann Mazzuchelli. “He’s kind and gentle. He would give you the shirt off his back. He radiates good and he works hard.”
Frank has been a Boy Scout since he was five and is hoping to achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He has painted the cafeteria of St. John’s Church in Winthrop, and spent weeks pulling out overgrown weeds at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus with a fellow scout. He’s humble and selfless, regularly volunteering at Winthrop Community Access Television, and filming a veteran’s show. The Winthrop High School senior also supports and speaks to children who have deployed parents, having come from a military family.
He posted flyers and spoke to parishioners at the end of mass, hoping to gather volunteers to help with his Eagle Project. A lot of the tools and supplies have been donated, and Frank hosted a bake sale that raised about $400, but the scout and church could use many more helping hands. For those who wish to make donations or help with renovations, Frank will continue making repairs and painting September 29-30. Call Frank with inquiries about the project at (617) 539-0903.