The parking lot of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Daly City is now something of a permanent gallery for the artwork of priest-in-residence Father Rey Culaba.
The Redemptorist priest and lifelong artist took up his brush to paint new Stations of the Cross icons for the parish after gusty winds tore the originals from their weathered outdoor moorings last year.
Father Domingo Orimaco said he immediately thought of asking Father Culaba to do replacement paintings. The pastor invited the 75-year-old priest to help with Mass and sacraments at the parish four years ago. “We are so privileged that he agreed to do it.”
The evocative acrylic paintings on weather-resistant redwood were installed just before Lent on the 14 tall wooden crosses that ring the parish lot. The parish community was invited to a preview exhibit in the church a few weeks earlier.
“God called me as I am,” said Father Culaba, a calming presence with a preacher’s voice and a boyish smile. He celebrates his 50th year as a missionary priest this year. “Being an artist came with the package.”
His are not traditional depictions of Christ’s passion. The faceless paintings place the viewer behind the scenes, as if one were among the crowd walking behind the cross to Calvary. Or in some cases, above it, like God’s own witness of the crucifixion of his son.
Throughout his priesthood, Father Culaba has brought pastoral artistry into service for his vocation. Many visible signs remain of his 12 years at St. Paul of the Shipwreck Parish in San Francisco under Franciscan Father Jim Goode, including a gallery-size portrait of the late Martin Luther King Jr.
Full story at SF Archdiocese.