ALBANY — Members of St. Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and other Albany community members now have a place of solitude to pray for the unborn around the clock, with this fall’s blessing of the Sorrowful Mother monument for the unborn on the north side of the church.

The project, which includes benches for contemplation, was spearheaded by the Albany Knights of Columbus Council 1577, said Patrick Parson, who with wife Teresita directs culture of life activities for the Oregon Knights of Columbus.

The project has been in development since 2017 and went through changes in three years.

Parson said the original idea was for the monument to be much smaller, but that changed as the Knights began looking at statues. He explained that an early stage concept was “a sad angel, a weeping angel,” but Father Edwin Sanchez, pastor in Albany, suggested that angels don’t really have emotions.

Another concept was to have a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary weeping for the victims of abortion. But when the project leaders saw a statue of the Blessed Mother, her arms crossed and her head bowed as though in prayer, they knew it was the right one.

Past Grand Knights Jon Kieffer and Bob Weiler were keys to the project.

“They made sure the ball didn’t get dropped along the way,” Parson said.

The 70-inch statue came from New York.

“When it arrived, the pandemic was underway, so it was stored in a garage for a few months,” said Parson.

The first of many steps was to pour a concrete slab and add a base for the statue, which is made of fiberglass resin. It took about a half-dozen Knights to install.

The statue was up by May 4 and was the site of a Novena for Life on May 10.

In June, benches were added, as was a plaque. It reads: “The Sorrowful Mother Monument for the Unborn. ‘Did He not create them in the womb like me? The same God forming us in the womb?’ Job 31:15.”

Flowers added color and capped the project.

“Other locations were considered, but the north side of the church provides a peaceful spot,” Parson said.

In September, during Archbishop Alexander Sample’s visit to the church, the statue was blessed along with a new parish center.

The Oregon Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Assembly assisted with the ceremony.

“This project commemorating the unborn could not have happened without the support and enthusiasm of Albany Knights,” Parson said. “I am proud to be part of the organization, and believe every Catholic man should consider becoming a Knight of Columbus."

Parson said the project cost about $9,000 and was paid for by Council 1577, a grant from the state Knights and a donation from the Fourth Degree Assembly 906.

“We are very pleased, very happy that everyone will be able to see the Blessed Mother and have a welcoming place to pray for the end of abortion and to preserve the sanctity of all lives,” Parson said.

The Parsons publish a monthly online Knights of Columbus pro-life newsletter, “Oregon, That’s Life,” in English and Spanish.