With strong hands, a carpenter smooths a piece of wood in his shop. “Jesus loved the creativity in the work of being a carpenter,” said Fr. Peter O’Brien, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Lebanon. The priest, a woodoworker, also thinks of St. Joseph as he labors. “It’s a way we connect. I can feel their companionship.” (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
With strong hands, a carpenter smooths a piece of wood in his shop. “Jesus loved the creativity in the work of being a carpenter,” said Fr. Peter O’Brien, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Lebanon. The priest, a woodoworker, also thinks of St. Joseph as he labors. “It’s a way we connect. I can feel their companionship.” (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)

For Father Peter O’Brien, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Lebanon, pastoral ministries are a priority. Time spent in his woodshop is therapy.

Father O’Brien counts woodworking among his hobbies. The priest even had the opportunity to create chairs, tables, a weekday altar and a weekday ambo for the new church at St. Anne in Grants Pass.

“It was a joy to be able to contribute something to the new church,” said Father O’Brien, adding how glad he was to be able to add to beauty.

Working in his shop gives Father O’Brien the chance to spend time with Jesus and Joseph, both carpenters.

“Jesus loved the creativity in the work of being a carpenter,” said the priest. “It’s a way we connect. I can feel their companionship.”

He can feel their ideas and inspirations coming to him. He can let go of worries.

“You just listen to them, Jesus and Joseph, coaching you along,” said Father O’Brien.

Frank Pozsgai started working with his hands as a child. In a German concentration camp, he had nothing to do but make things with his hands. Pozsgai, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Aloha, eventually was freed from the camp, came to the United States through Ellis Island, grew up and became an engineer working at Tektronix in Beaverton. The Aloha man retired from the company in 1990 and continued to work with his hands, but this time as a woodworker.

Pozsgai works in his shop creating beautiful works on a scroll saw, a stationary saw that allows for tighter cuts and more intricate work. He makes various wooden pieces including silhouettes of Jesus, Mary, an angel and the Last Supper. But he’s perhaps most well-known for his wooden crosses that are sold locally and around the world.

“I’m proud that I’m able to do what I’m doing,” said Pozsgai, adding that Christ inspires him to fashion religious pieces. He has been able to create the processional cross for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and also cut an 8-foot-tall version of his cross to appear on the parish at Christmastime.

“When they see the thing they just love it. It’s very meaningful,” he said.

Pat Beckham has been doing carpentry for years. Over time, he’s had the chance to make many pieces for his parish, St. Mary Our Lady of the Dunes in Florence.

“I feel very certain that St. Joseph and the Holy Spirit, along with Jesus, have guided my hands and mind many times when making various projects, especially when it is a project for our parish.”

The carpenter considers doing work he’s directed to by God to be a privilege and blessing.

“It’s almost like a real life prayer for me and I really enjoy giving back to God in a way that makes me feel so close to not only the Father and the Holy Spirit, but also St. Joseph and Jesus, both of whom were carpenters, too,” said Beckham.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org