A priest who makes his own light saber? You betcha. And soon he will be a bishop!
Deep in the heart of Texas, a campus chaplain is busy making his final spiritual and practical preparations for becoming a bishop. However, unlike many of his soon-to-be brother-bishops, Fr. David Konderla is carving his very own staff – or crosier – to signify his new position and duty as a teacher and head of a diocese.
“Every Jedi has not completed his training until he’s made his own light saber that he uses to fight evil with – so this is my light saber,” Bishop-elect David Konderla told CNA in an interview.
You probably never thought of a priest or a bishop as a Jedi. And you probably never thought that they would need a light saber although they do fight evil. For Fr. Konderla it’s a symbol of his role as a bishop. How does he make a crosier? What does it stand for?
A crosier is a hooked staff – based on the shape of a shepherd’s staff – carried by bishops in the Catholic Church to symbolize their pastoral function in the Church. Other important symbols of a bishop’s position are the pectoral cross worn on a bishop’s chest, the mitre- or hat, and the episcopal ring.
Fr. Konderla saved wood from trees that were taken down to build a parish center. “I was able to incorporate some of that wood into this crosier so it will have that special meaning.”
The crosier has a bottom section that is detachable so that you can travel with it. The hook is a little trickier to make. Fr. Konderla takes thinly-sliced strips of wood that are softened with steam from a kettle on his stovetop. After they soften, he quickly bends them around a form and lets them cool. Then they can be glued together to form an “ugly” square piece of wood that is whittled and smoothed until it takes the form of a hook. He will use different woods in the same process to make three rings of wood that he sees as “representing the trinity.” Then the staff will be stained and polished.
Fr. Konderla and his brother, a jeweler, are working together to design and make a ring based on St. Pope John Paul II’s fisherman’s ring. The ring includes gold from their mother’s wedding ring and incorporates his devotions to the Sacred Heart, Divine Mercy and Mary.
Fr. Konderla said that this project of creating the crosier and ring are reflecting the beauty that God creates in the world. “Art is expressive of the divine,” and woodwork in particular is an art form that must respect God’s own beautiful creations, he said. He will be setting up his workshop in his new garage as a bishop!
Everything in our Church has meaning from the stained glass to the vestments that the Priest wears. Our homes say a lot about us from the colors we like to the style of furniture. We wear different styles of clothing or jewelry. Do you have your Grandmother’s favorite teapot? Maybe something that belonged to your great-grandparents? As Christians, we all choose how we show our faith. I wear a cross and a few Saint medals. I have crosses in my home and religious pictures among the many of family or art that I have created. I also have treasures that have been handed down in my family. All of those are carried with me like the bishop’s crosier. They ‘shepherd’ and guide me through life just like the shepherd’s staff. Our challenge is to be good shepherds to those around us.
Here are some staffs from our popes:
Pope Francis looks pretty serious here as he listens intently. He has asked us to show mercy to each other, especially our families and listen to the poor. He wants us to make a difference in the world around us!
Pope Benedict XVI is smiling!