By RENEE WEBB
When the Ten Commandments statue was installed at St. Boniface Church in Sioux City about seven years ago, the Knights of Columbus wanted it to serve as a visible sign of the Christian faith.
After years out in the weather, with the letters fading and tattered, the Knights at St. Boniface decided it was time for the statue to receive a makeover.
Located outside of the church building, next to a sidewalk with a fair amount of foot traffic, the statue serves as a means of evangelization. St. Boniface is now a worship site with Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish.
“It’s a great reminder of the tenants of the faith and how we should live our lives,” said Bob Duncan, a member of Knights Council 12855 at St. Boniface, who noted they began to fundraise for the statue after attending a 4th Degree Knights ceremony in Sioux City with the support of then-pastor Father Jim Bruch. “The beatitudes and Ten Commandments are God’s laws. He gave it to us.”
A movement to place these statues on church property began about 10 years ago after a statue in a community down South was forced to remove it from a courthouse. It was then placed on church property.
Made from the marble at Mount Sinai, the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, Duncan said this statue has the commandments and a Bible verse etched on one side and the beatitudes on the other.
John Green, a Knight with the St. Boniface council, noted, “The statue was really starting to weather. Not all of the lettering was off, but it was getting close. It was not only hard to read, but was looking shabby.”
Duncan said they wanted people to be able to read it easily as they walked or drove by.
The Knights agreed it was time for the statue to be refurbished and they sought the advice of Heelan art teacher Laurie Dougherty.
“We wanted to find a student who had artistic ability and patience,” Green said. “Most of us guys can’t draw a straight line.”
In March the art teacher approached then-senior Anna Sealey about undertaking the work of refurbishing the statue and she agreed so to add one more project to her portfolio. A four-year Heelan art student, the St. Michael parishioner plans to attend the University of Illinois to study graphic design.
Sealey, who graduated in May, waited until summer to begin the task of repainting the letters and decorative trim on the two-sided statue.
Given the detail of the work, she acknowledged, “I didn’t realize it would take this long and it takes a lot of patience. You have to be steady with the brush.”
Sealey, who uses a 50-50 proportion of black and clear special oil-based paint for stone, anticipated it will take about 100 hours to complete the project. Once she is done painting the black, the artist will add a clear top-coat.
“It always feels good to give back,” she said. “It’s nice that I am using the talent God has given me in this way. It’s nice combining my love of art with the church.”
Working on the project, Sealey has witnessed first-hand that people do see and value the statue. Neighbors – most are not Catholic – have complimented her on the work and commented on the beauty of the statue.
While she will receive a stipend for her work, Green commended Sealey for all of the hours she has put into the project.
“Anna is being very generous with her talent,” he said.
Promoting the faith in daily life is one of the missions of the Knights, Green noted, and the statue is one way to do that.
“It’s a way for us as Christians to share our faith and remind people – even those who may not be Christian – of what God has asked of us as to how we should live our lives,” Duncan said.