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Ten Commandments monument fund falling far short of $75,000 goal

Matthew Medsger
| Monday, July 10, 2017, 12:06 a.m.
In this photo from July, a sign at Mary Queen of Apostles School on Freeport Road in New Kensington heralded the eventual arrival of a Ten Commandments monument.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
In this photo from July, a sign at Mary Queen of Apostles School on Freeport Road in New Kensington heralded the eventual arrival of a Ten Commandments monument.
The grounds at Mary Queen of Apostles School along Freeport Road in New Kensington on Friday, July 7, where a Ten Commandments monument is slated to be moved to. MQA is housed in the former Greenwald Memorial School.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
The grounds at Mary Queen of Apostles School along Freeport Road in New Kensington on Friday, July 7, where a Ten Commandments monument is slated to be moved to. MQA is housed in the former Greenwald Memorial School.

A plan to install a Ten Commandments monument once at the center of a lengthy legal controversy will need to be readdressed, according to a spokesman with the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

The monument, which was removed from the Valley High School campus in March, was the center of a federal lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2012 on behalf of a local woman who claimed it was a strictly religious symbol offensive to her and her daughter, who attended Valley High at the time. The woman identified herself as an atheist.

Nearly five years later, the New Kensington-Arnold School District and the foundation reached a settlement in February, which required the monument to be removed from the public high school's grounds and the district's insurance company to pay legal fees.

Mary Queen of Apostles School, operated by the Greenburg Diocese, was selected as the monument's new home.

The Catholic school is in the former Greenwald Memorial School building at Freeport and Elmtree roads in New Kensington. New Kensington-Arnold, the previous owner, closed Greenwald in 2014 as part of a district restructuring.

The future home of the monument will be along the Freeport Road side of Greenwald. The spot has been marked with a temporary sign telling passing motorists that the Ten Commandments are “coming soon.”

Following the diocese's acceptance of the monument, a crowdfunding campaign was started on GoFundMe to defray the cost of installing it.

The diocese hoped to raise at least $75,000 through the campaign to install the monument with a digital message board that would showcase one of the Ten Commandments each day along with school messages.

Monsignor Michael J. Begolly, chairman of the board of pastors of Mary Queen of Apostles and pastor of Mount St. Peter Parish in New Kensington, described the move to install the monument as a conspicuous statement of the values the school teaches.

The GoFundMe page states, “the Ten Commandments are an inspiration to live by and are not offensive in our community.”

However, in the three months' time the campaign has been active, it has raised just over $4,500 from 60 donors.

Jerry Zufelt, Catholic Diocese of Greensburg spokesman, said the campaign will need to change considering the response.

“The scope of the project is being revisited, and we'll have an update for people soon,” he said.

According to Zufelt, an updated plan for the monument and a schedule for installation has been in the works, but details won't be available until late July. It remains in storage.

In the interim, the campaign organizers have lowered their fundraising goal to $25,000.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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