My painting, Faith, portrays Fr. Pat Mascarella seated at St. Joseph’s Cathedral with his service dog, Pace. I used a photo taken by a friend attending a service in the cathedral. A collector purchased the original at an exhibit at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and contacted me to see if I would have prints available (yes!) because a family member was interested in purchasing several.
After a few weeks of missed connections, I was finally able to deliver the prints and meet Pace. He is a large dog who had completed ten years of service and was about to retire when he was adopted by a member of Fr. Pat’s family. Pace allowed me to pet him even though I am sure he could smell my three cats.
Later in the day, my friend who took the picture I used stopped by my studio. I told her about meeting the service dog, and she told me about attending the anointing of the sick service with a friend who had been ill. Fr. Pat came in, sat in the front pew, and in the aisle was Pace, so calm and peaceful. She thought it was a great photo opportunity.
What a coincidence these two meetings took place on the same day. Making this painting was an emotional experience; it was hard to hold back the tears when painting Pace. I was worried he did not understand where his companion was. After meeting Pace, I felt that he knew exactly where Fr. Pat was, in heaven.
Inspire:To fill with the urge to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Louisiana,You Inspire Me was the theme of Associated Women in the Arts’ Spring Exhibition at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. While many things about my adopted state motivate me to paint, I had difficulty pinpointing what truly inspires me. I only saw Fr. Mascarella once when he said Mass at the church I attended. This retired priest, who was blind, often substituted in different parishes throughout the diocese. Considering the logistics of his traveling anywhere, I was impressed that he got around as much as he did. The faith he had in his service dog, Pace, was in a word, inspiring.
I joined a group of artists sketching at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge several days after Fr. Mascarella passed away. Sitting at the rear of the church (because that’s where I always sit) my perspective included stained glass windows between the arches. It was pretty dark but the watercolor sketch was all right.
Several days later, my husband came home with a photo his friend, Paula, took of Fr. Mascarella with Pace, sitting in the area of the cathedral I had drawn the weekend before. I knew then that would be my painting. He persevered when he could have easily given up, continued to serve his community in retirement, and even took art classes at LSU though he could could not see. Thank you, Fr. Mascarella, for being an inspiration not only to me, but hundreds of others.