Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Diocese’s first ‘Project Moses’ monument dedicated in Walla Walla
by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Bishop Skylstad was in Walla Walla Jan. 24 to bless and dedicate a Ten Commandments memorial, sponsored by the Walla Walla Knights of Columbus. Assisting him are, from left, Father Alejandro Zepeda, parochial vicar of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes; Father Tim Hays, pastor of Assumption Parish; and Father Pat Kerst, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi. (IR photo courtesy of Ed Valencsin)
About a year ago, Ed Valencsin, a member of Knights of Columbus council #766 in Walla Walla, came across an article in Columbia, the national Knights of Columbus magazine, about “Project Moses.” The article, titled “Displays of Faith,” “answered my question as to how to answer back to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and its removal of the Ten Commandments from our public lands and buildings, as happened in Kansas City, Kan.,” he said. “To keep God in our daily lives and in front of the public, as well, I didn’t have a better answer.”
The article told of John Menghini, a Kansas City businessman who learned from a television news program that the ACLU was suing Kansas City in order to have a Ten Commandments monument removed from the Wyandotte County Courthouse lawn in Kansas City. Menghini tried to think of a constructive way to fight back, and he realized that public displays of the Ten Commandments seemed scarce even on Jewish and Christian properties.
After visiting with numerous Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant faiths, about four years ago John Menghini launched what came to be called “Project Moses.”
The goal of Project Moses (www.projectmoses.com) is to erect beautiful, prominent monuments bearing the Ten Commandments – in either the Jewish, St. Augustine or King James numbering system, based upon the tradition of the owner of a given property. Each numbering system traces its origins to Chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus and Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy, which are the same for all Jewish and Christian traditions.
“Having studied the Project Moses information,” Ed Valencsin said, “we decided to keep our own project local, so as to save costs and do business locally. We have had a 4x5-foot monument built, with the Commandments on the front side and the Beatitudes on the other side, and it is terrific.”
The first monument has been installed on the grounds of DeSales High School, blessed and dedicated by Bishop Skylstad on Jan. 24.
“Our plan at present is to build three more, one for each of our parish churches in Walla Walla,” said Valencsin. “We hope that this project will attract the attention of other parishes and Knights of Columbus councils.”
One goal of Project Moses nationally is to set up 7,000 Ten Commandments monuments at churches, synagogues and temples, religious schools, and private properties. The Project also aims to collect the funds necessary to complete a $10 million monument to the Ten Commandments in Washington, D.C., similar in size to the Lincoln and Jefferson Monuments. The centerpiece of this monument will be an 18- to 24-foot bronze statue of Moses and an enormous stone slate with the Ten Commandments on it.
So far, a 6.5 acre site, on private property in Washington, D.C., has been identified and made available to Project Moses. At the same time, representatives of Project Moses have contacted the National Park Service in an effort to secure a site on the National Mall.
Regardless of which site is chosen, however, Project Moses and the monument organizers hope to have the national monument ready for visitors by 2009.