On Church projects, this woodworker mixes sawdust with prayer

Jeff Potylycki loves his Church and his woodworking hobby, and he combines the two by building custom cabinetry for churches in the Diocese.

A wooden crosier for Bishop Schlert is one of many Church-related projects built by woodworker Jeff Potylycki. (Photo by Paul Wirth)

His latest project is a wooden crosier for Bishop Alfred Schlert. After volunteering to create the piece, Potylycki spent about eight months shaping, carving and sanding various species of wood in his compact basement workshop.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Potylycki of his Church-related projects. “I often pray as I make things.”

Bishop Schlert uses a crosier in processions, when conferring sacraments and at other times during the Mass celebration. Crosiers, typically staffs with a curved crook on top, are traditional reminders that Bishops stand among their flock and represent Christ, the Good Shepherd.

The crosier Potylycki built for Bishop Schlert is fashioned of mahogany, rosewood, satinwood, curly maple and oak. It’s the second Bishop’s crosier Potylycki has made. Previously, he built one for Bishop Thomas Welsh, second Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown.

Potylycki is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Whitehall. Among his other projects for diocesan churches are lecterns, pedestals for statues, chapel altars and tabernacle components.

“It’s a beautiful crosier and a wonderful gift,” Bishop Schlert told Potylycki. “Thank you so much.” The Bishop used the crosier for the first time Feb. 4 at Confirmation at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena.


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