Fulton and Albany Parishioners Create Three-Dimensional Art
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
March 21, 2024

FULTON/ALBANY—An exercise of art-plus-devotion has enhanced Lent for over a dozen people at Immaculate Conception Parish-Fulton (mornings) and St. Patrick Parish-Albany (evenings) this year.

On Feb. 22, Father Timothy Barr, pastor of both parishes, began helping parishioners and others create crucifixes. He provided them with their choice of a large (34-inch) or a small (12-inch) wooden cross, all made by him about 15 years ago from hardwood flooring and barnwood. He was assisted in that effort by a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, where he was assigned at that time.

That parishioner had a woodworking shop, Father Barr recalls, “so I made a whole bunch (60) of them.”

With assistance back then from Joseph Camaioni (father of Father Matthew Camaioni), Father Barr also designed and cast figures of Jesus in resin — around 60 corpuses.

With the fruits of those efforts, the priest expanded his seminary-years’ idea of creating a crucifix, growing that thought from “something fun” into a shared experience at parishes where he has most recently served.

Several women gathered for 2024’s second session the morning of Feb. 29 to paint “wounds” on their Jesuses. Three participants this year opted for the 22-inch corpuses, and the rest worked on eight-inch figures.

During the not quite two-hour session, Father Barr mixed instruction with encouragement and readings from St. Faustina Kowalska’s Diary. The conversations between the readings ranged from practical thoughts to some that were more meditative.

Gail Devereaux, a parishioner at Prince of Peace Parish across the river in Clinton, Iowa, read about the Lenten activity in the parish bulletin.

“I thought it would be really neat, and it is,” she said. “I’m really enjoying it.” She pointed to special touches on her large corpus that included a yellow heart depicting light, the figure of a chalice to collect Jesus’ blood, and lots of black paint on the crown of thorns to illustrate our sins. As she added extra wounds on Jesus’ shoulder and knees, she explained that her extras were “to sort of make it my own.” She used her phone to show Father Barr a picture that inspired parts of her unique design.

Immaculate Conception parishioner Pam Donoho noted that she had gone home after the first gathering to go through pictures in her Bible for ideas. Her Jesus had a brown (instead of white) loincloth as a result.

Father Barr earlier had gently teased one artist, saying, “I noticed that you hardly hurt Jesus — (you) didn’t wound Him at all.”

Another Immaculate Conception parishioner asked rhetorically, “Do I have enough blood on Him …
it’s more than I wanted.” She added that her “INRI” sign for her cross was the result of her effort “to make it look old.”

As Father Barr gave some watered-down brown paint to one woman, describing it as “dirt to be put on,” she squirmed and said, “That’s uncomfortable.” When he explained it would allow her to create a “Veronica’s cloth” of an imprint of Jesus’ face, she took a deep breath and began to dab the brown on before spreading and pressing a square cloth over the face. She was pleased with the cloth’s image and with the fact that most of the “dirt” on the face was gone … showing still the red tears she had painted there.

Parish secretary and crucifix-maker Mary B. Paul was catching up on her project after missing the first session. “I can’t imagine having this done to me,” she said as she contemplated the various corpuses. “I also think about the Blessed Mother there, watching her son.”

Two women then briefly shared their own difficult experiences of similar times of watching their relatives suffer, and their prayers to Mary.

As the artists neared completion of the second stage of the process, Father Barr explained that during the coming week he would spray a clear coating on the corpuses to assure the water-soluble paint would not come off. Additionally, he promised to drill holes in the hands, feet, and crosses so participants would be able to push the “nails” into place instead of hammering them in. That seemed to relieve more than one artist. The INRI signs (or variations) would be affixed at that third session to the crosses.

Father Barr then noted that the question they all would ask themselves at the conclusion of that final session would be: “What’s our response?”

An earlier comment by Mary Paul perhaps summarized several of the artists’ thoughts. When she had looked at the collection of corpuses, she simply sighed, “Dear Jesus.”


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