The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Picture this: a priest finds God in the abstract

posted by jmcgee

A California priest is expressing his faith in a surprising and creative way:

There’s no steeple out front, no rows of pews inside, not even so much as a crucifix on display.

bw_photo_1.jpgStill, this cramped little art studio in the middle of what, until not very long ago, was a street with as many broken dreams as it has potholes, is the closest thing to paradise Father Bill Moore has found. It’s the place where the 60-year-old Catholic priest serves God by creating abstract paintings that he sells by the hundreds.

No ordinary preacher, Father Bill, as he’s known throughout Pomona’s fledgling arts district, long ago discarded his clerical collar in favour of a painter’s smock. Only on Sundays does he trade it for holy vestments to deliver mass at a local church or one of several detention facilities for youthful offenders.

All other times Moore is head of the Ministry of the Arts for the West Coast branch of his religious order, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. His job is to serve God by painting whatever comes to mind.

“That’s Bill’s gift, his talent, and we have to support that,” says Father Donal McCarthy, who is the order’s West Coast provincial and Moore’s superior. “When you’ve got a creative person, you shouldn’t stifle that creativity.”

Leaders of the order, founded more than 200 years ago in France, know of no other member whose only mission has been to paint. But then Moore, a child of the ’60s who can quote the words of Jim Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Jesus Christ with equal facility, has been a barrier-breaker since he ignored his provincial’s order his freshman year of college to study either philosophy or theology. He majored in art instead.

“The next year, a letter came from the provincial saying all the students are now encouraged to major in subjects of their choice. I thought that was very cool,” Moore recalls with a smile as he sits in the lobby of his modest studio sipping coffee.

Continue at the link for more about his life, his painting, and his vocation.

You can also visit Fr. Bill’s website to sample some of his work.



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Bryan Healy

posted December 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm


Great, let’s highlight a priest that ignores the vow of obedience to his superiors and ignores Rome’s repeated request that priests wear clerical clothing.
[Bryan…how is he ignoring his vow of obedience to his superiors? The article quotes the head of the order as being very supportive of this particular ministry. — Dcn. G. ]



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Collard Green 72

posted December 31, 2009 at 7:57 pm


No way this was written by a Catholic Deacon. Snice whhen does a Catholic priest “deliver” (M)mass? A very disappointing insert as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Mary, Mother of GOd.
[Collard…no, this was not written by a deacon. It came from a news service in Canada. — Dcn. G.]



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Bryan Healy

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:57 pm


Hi Deacon G:
I was referring to when he initially refused to study theology or philosophy as he was told, and studied art.



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Msgr. Baddick

posted January 1, 2010 at 8:53 am


Yikes— I hope his preaching is better than his art. (check out his website!) I guess I could see it, if there was something explicitly religious in his art.
Bottom line: Sounds like he found a nice, cushy job, doing only what he wants to do, and I guess his religious community makes a couple a couple of bucks off of him. But— in this time of dire shortages of priests, it seems the needs of the Church could be better served. . . if he’d just work full-time as a priest. The harvest is plenty, laborers are few. . .



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted January 1, 2010 at 10:41 am


I am ever moved by how God reveals so much in each of us and am trying to pray my way through the vitriolic comments about this post. To find God there is a challenge, but so it must be.



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Mike

posted January 1, 2010 at 11:31 am


His art is quite good, actually, to those who actually have eyes.
I’m intrigued by how many conservatives think that God follows their instructions.



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dymphna

posted January 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm


I’d be impressed if he was running a parish.



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Chris

posted January 2, 2010 at 9:43 am


It is in the nature of “barrier breaker” children of the ’60s to enjoy breaking the rules. I believe it is a bad sign that at the beginning of his studies this priest ignored the direction of his provincial and chose art. Not that art is bad, but disobedience — and feeling a freedom to ignore the rules — is not something that makes a good priest. Mike, I do have eyes, and I don’t think the value of that abstract work could possibly outweigh the value of saying daily Mass, for example. Fran, you’re so often offended by the forthright statements of those with strong views: Perhaps you should avoid websites in which there is contention? And dymphna, I agree, running a parish is a much harder task than following your muse. I would imagine the joys of doing it well would be greater.



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