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Concordia’s campus chosen as location for Children’s Memorial

Honoring lives lost too soon is the purpose of the Children’s Memorial planned for Seward, Neb. More than two thirds of the $120,000 estimated cost has been raised for the memorial prayer garden that will be created on the northwest edge of Concordia University, Nebraska’s campus. Construction is set to begin in late summer 2014.

Concordia was chosen as the site for the memorial by Heartfelt Connections of Seward, a grief support organization for parents who have lost children.

The 50-foot by 50-foot memorial will be built on the grassy area near the intersection of East Hillcrest Drive and Kolterman Avenue and will feature walls, sculptures, lighting, benches and landscaping.

A presentation announcing the partnership was held Oct. 2 at the proposed site.

“We are honored that our campus has been selected as the site of the Children's Memorial and look forward to hosting family members and friends who will visit the memorial and will pause to remember and give thanks for children they have lost,” said Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich, president of Concordia University, Nebraska.

“Having the Children's Memorial on campus will enable us to better serve the greater Seward community and provide opportunities to share the message of God's love for all and the eternal hope we know in Jesus Christ.”

Joshua Smith, a member of Concordia’s art department, is creating a sculpture under the direction of the university’s Center for Liturgical Art. Another piece of artwork is being created in Boston.

Heartfelt Connections of Seward considered several locations for the memorial, but favored the campus for its year-round access and prominent location. Members of the group decided to make an appointment with Friedrich and talk about the project.

“We knew that Concordia was vested in our community and is a compassionate and caring institution,” explained Sharon Dickinson, a member of Heartfelt Connections. “We knew the worst that could happen to our request was to be told no.”

But Friedrich said yes, and so did Concordia University, Nebraska’s Board of Regents, who voted in favor of moving forward with the project in July.

“Life abounds on our campus; yet, we know that death is ever present and the grief it brings, especially to families of children and young people, can be devastating,” explained Friedrich.

Heartfelt Connections will fund the project and has currently raised $84,000 of the $120,000 needed for construction. Most of those funds have come from the sale of memorial bricks. Concordia will also receive an annual stipend from Heartfelt to provide maintenance and upkeep such as mowing and water.

The organization plans to hold a dedication for the memorial on Sept. 28, 2014. There will also be an annual event to dedicate the bricks that are added each year.

“There has never been a time or a meeting with Concordia staff, that this project has not been embraced with compassion and respect,” Dickinson said.

“We are at peace that we have found the perfect place for the memorial.”

For information about Heartfelt Connections and to purchase bricks, visit heartfeltseward.org.