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Knights donate pro-life monument to Valley parish

VALLEY – It’s a powerful image reflecting God’s protection and the sanctity of life: a baby cradled in a hand, engraved in 2½ tons of glacial granite.

And it’s located near the entrance of St. John the Evangelist Church in Valley, reminding parishioners of those messages each time they enter for Mass or prayer, said Father Lloyd Gnirk, pastor.

Donated by Knights of Columbus Council 7034 at a cost of more than $6,000 and installed last fall, the "Life Rock" will be dedicated May 24 at a ceremony and dinner sponsored by the Knights for parishioners. Council members are grateful Archbishop George J. Lucas will preside at the 5 p.m. Mass and bless the rock at the conclusion of Mass, said Larry Kindig, grand knight.

The rock features a gold background, the Knights of Columbus logo and a Scripture passage from Isaiah 49:16, "I will never forget you…. you are carved in the palm of my hand."

The passage is one of his favorites from Scripture, said Father Gnirk, who has a framed version in his office.

"It indicates the closeness and the love that God has for us, the intimacy he has with us," Father Gnirk said.

Cut from a 16-ton glacial granite boulder near Pierre, S.D., by a South Dakota excavating company that also did the engraving, the rock is generating positive feedback, Kindig said. The Life Rock fulfilled the 92-member council’s desire to pursue a pro-life project and create a permanent monument for the parish, he said.

"It’s a nice addition," Kindig said. "We’re really proud of it."

The council had some of the money for the project on hand and council members donated additional money and labor, Kindig said. A St. John parishioner provided the crane that lowered the rock into place, he said.

With landscaping and a light, the monument is illuminated after dark.

"It is absolutely beautiful," Kindig said. "It has a ‘wow’ factor."

The project is another example of the variety of activities and fundraisers the Knights are involved with, Father Gnirk said. Those services include providing roses on Mother’s Day, financially supporting seminarians in the archdiocese, promoting fellowship by serving coffee and donuts once a month after Sunday Masses, and hosting cookouts and dinners.

"The council is very dedicated to the parish," Father Gnirk said.