Monument donated to church in Dundalk

Ten Commandment installation first of its kind in state

March 11, 2006|By NICK SHIELDS | NICK SHIELDS,SUN REPORTER

While browsing the Internet in early December, Bob Bichell came across a Web site that caught his eye and touched his spirit.

Bichell, a member of the Knights of Columbus, Dundalk Council No. 2942, contacted officials from Project Moses. That nonprofit organization is, its organizers say, committed to "re-establishing respect and appreciation" for the Ten Commandments.

The Knights of Columbus council bought a Ten Commandments monument from the organization and installed it on the front lawn of Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church. Tomorrow Cardinal William H. Keeler is scheduled to offer Mass at the church and bless the monument.

Bichell, director of campus projects and utilities at Coppin State University, said he remembers seeing the movie The Ten Commandments as a child.

"I really believe in obeying the Ten Commandments," Bichell, 56, said. "It's a good set of values for all religions. It's just something that means a lot to me."

The monument, and additions including a plaque and sculptures of two children kneeling in prayer, cost the Dundalk Knights of Columbus about $10,000. The monument is made of marble, stands about 5 feet tall and weighs about 800 pounds. One side of the monument lists the Ten Commandments, and the other side has the Beatitudes.

The monument and the sculpture of the children are surrounded by a white fence donated by a local business.

"We're very proud of it," said Monsignor Richard E. Parks, pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary. "It's amazing how many children come up and read it."

The church is just inside the city line, not far from Dundalk Avenue.

Joe Worthing, executive director of Omaha, Neb.-based Project Moses, said the monument purchased by the Dundalk Knights of Columbus is the first in Maryland.

Worthing said the organization was formed in response to the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse lawn in Kansas City, Kan. Since Project Moses began marketing its monuments to the public in April 2004, 157 orders have been filled, Worthing said.

He said all but 10 of the monuments have been placed on Catholic properties.

Worthing said he urges buyers to put the monuments in highly visible areas for the public to see.

"Don't put it in a prayer garden where only one person a year sees it," he said.

Worthing said the organization wants to establish 7,000 Ten Commandments monuments at churches, synagogues, religious schools and private properties. The organization would use the money raised to erect a monumental bronze statue of Moses and the commandments in Washington.

Around lunchtime yesterday, Irene Spatafore parked her car within view of the monument outside Sacred Heart of Mary.

"It's absolutely beautiful," she shouted to the members of the Knights of Columbus from her car. "This is putting Dundalk on the map. It's stunning."

nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

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