Wednesday 7 December 2016

Priest finds God in abstract art

Published 03/01/2010 | 11:48

Father Bill Moore in California finds God in abstract expressionism
Father Bill Moore in California finds God in abstract expressionism

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

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Still, 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. When you've got a creative person, you shouldn't stifle that creativity," says Father Donal McCarthy, who is the order's West Coast provincial and Moore's superior.

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 said.

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