Celebrating Christ’s Passion through Art

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“Strength”, depicting the Seventh Station_Jesus falls the second time by Acting Religious Education Coordinator and Family Educator, Francesca Cantarella and Janine Hanningan from St Francis Xavier Primary, Ashbury, in the “Stations of the Passionate and Faith Filled” art exhibition. Photo: Alphonsus Fok.

In a great display of public evangelisation, St Paul of the Cross primary school in Dulwich Hill is hosting a landmark art display throughout Holy Week, showcasing the Stations of the Cross through artwork from staff members across Sydney Catholic Schools.

Entitled “Stations of the Passionate and Faith Filled”, The 14 Stations of the Cross are each painted by individual staff members and each accompanied by a personal testimony from the artist on what inspired them in their artwork, from personal battles to overcome cancer, through to the current conflict in Ukraine and the struggle for Indigenous reconciliation.

The Head of New Evangelisation at Sydney Catholic Schools, Dr Robert Haddad said the art display was an innovative way to help staff members pass on the beauty of the Easter story to fellow staff members and students.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this before and it’s been great to see something coming from staff in our system that are not simply engaged in religious education, evangelisation or mission with some of the artists coming from different directorates which you wouldn’t normally think of in religious terms and that’s what we want to achieve with evangelisation”, Dr Haddad explained.

This was certainly true for Property Directorate staff member, Adoyi P. Ojobo who was the artist responsible for the Ninth Station, showing Jesus falling a third time.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Project Delivery Specialist, Planning and Facilities Finance and Property Directorate, Adoyi P. Ojobo with his work “Perseverance” on the 9th Station of the Cross, “Jesus falls a third time” as part of the SCS’ display, Stations of the Passionate and Faith Filled, 4 April 2022. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

He took up art as a hobby in his spare time during the recent COVID lockdown and centered his artwork on the theme of perseverance, drawing inspiration in his work from the struggles in the pandemic.

“Jesus’ action at Station 9 serves as a reminder that we need to continue to persevere and push through difficult times. Over a year ago, who knew it would have been the last time we got to see our friends in person? But we’ve been able to persevere through all of that and move forward. With Christ on our side, we can get through whatever”, he said.

Education Officer-Gifted Education, Jennifer Edwards, drew upon her personal trauma in overcoming breast cancer as the inspiration for her work on the artwork at the Tenth Station, when Jesus was stripped of his clothes.

“When I reflected on this scripture, I was struck by a wave of sensations- being stripped, exposed, vulnerable, traumatised and humbled: the inevitability of Jesus facing His stripping and what was to come”, Ms Edwards shared.

“Exposed and Vulnerable”, depicting the Tenth Station, Jesus is stripped of his clothes, by Jennifer Edwards, Education Officer- Gifted Education, Sydney Catholic Schools’ Education and Research Directorate, as part of the “Stations of the Passionate and Faith Filled” exhibition.. Photo: Alphonsus Fok.

“I have been on what I call the cancer nightmare- not journey-, as I see a journey as something pleasant. It was not something I chose; it was chosen for me. Since my breast cancer diagnosis, I have felt exposed, vulnerable and humbled. Jesus was no more exempt from the trauma of what was happening to Him than I or anyone else that has experienced such a nightmare”.

“Stations of the Passionate and Faith Filled” was inspired by the Family Educator at St Paul of the Cross, Dulwich Hill, Mrs Tania Chahoud.

She hopes it can become an annual event as a powerful means of catechesis and evangelisation, allowing teachers and other Sydney Catholic Schools Staff to pass on their faith through art.

“I often say to parents when I’m celebrating the sacraments that the greatest support you can offer your child is when you’re modelling the sacraments and I hope that’s similarly the inspiration people gain from this public exhibition”, Mrs Chahoud said.

“We need to engage our youth because they’re the faith of our future. In the same way, we feed them subjects like Maths and English to our students, we also need to feed them faith as parts of our very special Catholic family”.