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Stein Spiritual Center
|Memorial to honor life in all stages
By MARGIE WUEBKER
The Daily Standard
MARIA STEIN - A unique memorial currently under construction on the
grounds of the Maria Stein Spiritual Center will honor the gift of life - from conception
to natural death.
The Respect Life Memorial, which is taking shape in a wooded area west
of the center, features two brick pathways leading to a central fountain. The 3-foot wall
encircling the fountain will be topped with Scripture passages engraved in stone. The
addition of benches in the rustic setting will provide a place for quiet reflection and
lighting will add security. Planners also envision a large statue, perhaps one of Jesus
with little children, and beautiful landscaping.
Members of the Respect for Life Committee, an independent committee
formed specifically for the project, began meeting more than a year ago to plan the
memorial. Some wanted a path that would be symbolic of life's journey while others felt
water should be included for its calm and peaceful properties.
Paul Gray, an architect with Bruns Building and Development Corp. of
St. Henry, took the ideas presented at the meetings and sketched a design proposal.
"We feel God's hand guided him," said committee member Joan
Homan. "It was an overwhelming experience to see everything right there on paper.
Seeing the memorial come to life reaffirms our commitment in such a beautiful way."
Site preparation began last spring as volunteers cleared a large
circular area in the midst of the existing woods. A rustic Nativity scene is located
nearby. Seventy to 80 loads of fill dirt were brought in prior to the foundation work
commencing Aug. 10.
A huge rock, weighing more than 6 tons, was installed as the focal
point. With a hole bored through the center, it will serve as the fountain with hidden
pumps recirculating the water.
"We have been blessed with lots of volunteer work," said
Therese Homan, a Mercer County Right to Life representative to the building committee.
"Whenever we need help, somebody shows up and brings along a friend."
Cultured stone veneer is being applied to 1,000 feet of block walls at
the present time. Virgil "Bud" Bertke, a retired brick and stone mason with
decades of experience, can be found deftly wielding a trowel at the site most days.
Working with him are two other veterans - Bill Wendel, a semi-retired brick and stone
mason who has 31 years of service with Albert Freytag Inc. of Minster, and Ken Bertke, a
25-year employee of H.A. Dorsten Inc. of Minster.
Engraved bricks will be used to pave the paths leading to the central
fountain. These are being sold for $20 each to individuals, families, businesses and local
organizations. Each brick has two lines for personalizing - the first for the name of the
person being honored and the second for a community name, family name or remembrance date.
There is a limit of 20 characters, including letters, spaces and punctuation, per line.
Certificates are available for anyone wishing to give an engraved brick as a gift.
Although this will be an ongoing project, a deadline of Dec. 15 has been slated for the
first set of bricks.
Just as each brick is important for the support of the bricks around
it, each person's life, no matter how short or long, is important to the lives around
them, according to Therese Homan.
"Everyone has their own reason for wanting a brick," she
added. "People who suffered a loss through abortion or miscarriage have no marked
grave to visit. They see a brick as a tribute to tiny lives that held so much promise. One
woman ordered a brick because she wants her family to always be pro-life and the message
will be etched in stone. Others want to honor relatives and friends."
The estimated cost of material for the project is $25,000 to $30,000,
with donations coming from individuals and groups. All labor and equipment has been
donated. Donors giving more that $500 will be recognized on an indoor plaque while the
names of those contributing $5,000 or more are to be listed on an outdoor plaque. All
donations are earmarked for construction as well as continued maintenance of the memorial.
Supporting organizations thus far include the Spiritual Center, the
Knights of Columbus and the Knights of St. John.
Initially, the memorial was to honor the unborn and to assist Project
Rachel programs offered at the Spiritual Center. Project Rachel is a program sponsored by
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which provides counseling and support to women who have had
an abortion. Research encouraged local committee members to broaden the scope of the
planned memorial to include all stages of life.
Although abortion remains one of the major concerns of the pro-life
movement, other procedures like stem cell research, assisted suicide and euthanasia are
equally important. Therefore, the movement has begun to focus on the concept that all life
deserves dignity, from conception until natural death. The memorial is being constructed
upon that foundation.
Anyone having questions about purchasing an engraved brick or making a
donation should contact Therese Homan at 419-925-4000.
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