Recently, the community at the Pasadena parish blessed a 12-foot long, 7-foot tall, one-ton bas relief image of the Respect Life logo by Rocco Marino depicting the many stages of life from birth to death. The artwork, affixed to the church exterior, is a project that has spanned decades, experienced set-backs and brought parishioners together.

 The idea for using the logo as an art piece started in 2000 when parishioner Sarah di Cicco fell in love with the design after seeing it displayed on tote bags. “I immediately saw it as a bas relief,” says di Cicco who recalls spending two years in France and marveling at European churches where the sculptural art form is regularly found. “I felt so strongly that it could be an inspiration for our ministry since it was so life-affirming and positive,” she says.

After meeting with then-Respect Life Director Licia Nicasso and receiving permission from the artist’s widow to use the logo, di Cicco followed along and then spearheaded the project which would eventually see its completion in 2010.

Money was the biggest hurdle, especially when the parish went into a master plan campaign. Determined to get the project off the ground, di Cicco finally said she would put up the funds to get the project started.

Thus began a long process of approving the architectural and artistic designs with Sacramento artist Anja Longenecker chosen to sculpt. In numerous design meetings, they discussed a variety of issues and details: How pregnant is the woman? How long should the child’s arms be? Who should be wearing shoes?

Finally, in 2007-2008, the artist’s finished clay sculpture went from Sacramento to Palmdale for casting in durastone, a resilient weather-proof material. But the finished art work languished in Palmdale, gathering dust waiting for the time and money when it could be properly installed.

Through the years, to raise funds to cover the cost of the art work, the Respect Life ministry held bake sales and organized book mark contests and sales for the students at St. Philip the Apostle School. While those funds --- and generous donations by other parishioners including Eileen and Dan Collins, Marion Nuccio and more --- helped the project, there still wasn’t enough to have the finished artwork installed.

Finally last summer, Father Joe Moniz, St. Philip’s pastor, put di Cicco in touch with parishioner Luke Welsh, who owned a local ironworks company and who would install the bas relief at no cost. And finally, an idea that began on paper finally came to life as a dynamic sculpture in a place of honor.

“What I like about it is that it includes all stages of life and it captures the fact that life is so precious at every age,” says Father Moniz who adds that because of its location, near the parish hall, the artwork is seen daily by children and parents alike.

Last October, the Respect Life bas relief was officially blessed with parishioners gathering after Masses to enjoy the new addition to their church. Future plans include adding lights to the area and extending the patio walkway so people can get closer to the work.

The long journey for di Cicco has been worth every minute. “The artwork is so important because this image is an experience of our faith,” she says. “In the Catholic churches of old, people didn’t read; their faith was expressed in the images, the painting, the art of the church. This logo symbolizes who we are as a faith community.”

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