Bear Your Cross

“Here! I have a gift for you! It’s a derringer,” my new friend said to me as he gave me a beautiful, handmade, wooden Benedictine cross.

“It’s a weapon,” he continued. “You can take it with you on your travels.”

The speaker was Patrick Campbell.

TRAVELING ARTISTIC FAMILY …

Brother Patrick is a kind man. He’s also wonderfully gifted and delightfully eccentric too. I had met Patrick only moments earlier, but we were already talking like old friends.

Beth and I were attending the Ignited By Truth Catholic Conference in Raleigh NC. After meeting one of his sons at their exhibit table, I was introduced to Patrick. That’s all it took for the conversation to get going!

It turns out that Patrick and his wife Joy have nine children. Together, they make up a blended family that travels two or three laps around the nation annually, something like a slow-motion NASCAR race.

The Campbells live in Kingstree SC, but much of the year, they attend Catholic events like the IBT conference, sharing their creative approach to apostolate and ministry. At the same time, they use their travels to stay in touch with their vast network of brothers and sisters in the Benedictine Order.

Both Patrick and Joy are third order Benedictine oblates.

CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL JUBILEE …

We caught up with Patrick soon after he had delivered the nearly life-size crucifix for the Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal this year. It now stands at its new home outside of Pittsburgh where the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was born in the USA.

The crucifix was commissioned after a call to Patrick’s home from Vatican City just before Christmas.

BEARING YOUR OWN CROSS …

According to Patrick, it all happened so fast, he almost couldn’t get it done. He was notified in December and began work on the crucifix right away in his garage. He quickly realized it was too big, and he would not be able to complete the work in the garage.

Patrick decided to move the crucifix to his shop a few blocks from his home in Kingstree. The trouble was, he had no way to get it there except by carrying it on his shoulder.

At first, Patrick thought he might attempt the task late at night when there was little or no traffic on the streets of his home town. But as God would have it, Patrick and one of his sons ended up carrying their cross down town in the middle of the day — and in the middle of traffic!

Thanks to the help and support of local police, the local fire department, and some townspeople of good will, the two Campbells made the trek with their cross just fine. And Patrick managed to finish the crucifix in time for a dedication at its new home (Pittsburgh) in mid-February, shortly before the IBT Catholic Conference began.

THE BENEDICTINE CROSS …

“Take it with you wherever you go,” Patrick said of the small, handmade Benedictine cross he was giving me as my derringer for spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:3-5), although I have to admit, I don’t recall his having ever actually said it that way.

I quickly slipped it into my briefcase where I keep all my travel and story notes. It’s been with me on the road ever since.

A MEASURE OF THE MAN …

I left the interview thinking to myself, “So how would I describe Patrick?”

How do you describe such a kind and gentle, eccentric and artistic man who once appeared at a Catholic conference in his Batman pajamas because he had forgotten to pack his normal clothes for the road trip?

Creative! Kind! Considerate! Caring! Compassionate! Determined! Charismatic! Family — yes, a real family man, for sure! Humor — and yes, a really great sense of humor, never taking himself too seriously!

All of the above are true.

Patrick’s focus is on the Lord and on his family. His calling is the way of the cross. His gifting is in the arts and also, a special love of people. And through his Benedictine spiritual formation and lifestyle, he and his family have cultivated a deep and abiding love for prayer and work.

Ora et labora!

It just doesn’t get much better than that, at least not on this side of eternity! If you see Patrick and his family out there on the road some place, be sure to say hello to them! You’ll quickly be “old friends” forever!

Patrick and his family are definitely Catholic Cool!

Check back shortly, and we’ll tell you another story from the Catholic Roads!

In Christ!