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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

031315 cross st benedictLINCOLNTON — A member of St. Dorothy Church in Lincolnton has turned to using his woodworking gifts to make wooden crucifixes and encourage other families to strengthen their relationship with God, after he and his own family went through a crisis several years ago.

Patrick Campbell was once a successful woodworker and self-described workaholic, keeping late hours on the job while his wife Joy homeschooled their nine children. Then Campbell lost his job, and the family sank into financial trouble. Their financial woes were compounded by chronic sicknesses, both physical and psychological, and by what the family described as "family wounds and heart brokenness."

On his wife's birthday, the desperate Campbell took his children into the garage of their Clover, S.C., home and they all worked together to carve a simple wooden cross for her. When they presented the cross to Joy Campbell, he recalls, he felt at peace – knowing that God was with him and his family even through their difficulties.

He kept on making crosses. In fact, he made 60 more crosses and crucifixes, each one different from another, feeling in his heart that they were somehow meant for other families in similar straits as his own.

That fall, in November 2013, Campbell decided to use the rest of the family's savings to go with his wife to a Catholic Charismatic renewal conference hosted by Damian Stayne, founder of a small Catholic lay community called Cor et Lumen Christi.

At one point during the conference's Saturday night healing service, Campbell recalled, he could feel God's presence. He started praying to God to help him with his financial problems, crying out in his heart, "I am ready!" Then Stayne spoke up, asking for the person who was associated with "Batman and George" to stand up.

Campbell realized that Stayne was talking about him: his favorite character as a kid was Batman and he grew up drawing a character named George. He stood up and, with much hesitation, went up to Stayne. "Why would God care about a man without a job?" he thought.

Stayne prayed over him, telling Campbell that he would not have to worry any longer.

The next day, Stayne introduced Campbell and his wife and invited them to talk to the conference participants about their family and their crosses. Campbell told everyone that he liked Batman because he was the only superhero who had no superpowers – he just had a special tool belt. Likewise, the cross is a powerful weapon in our spiritual tool belts as Catholic, he said, holding up one of his wooden crosses. Stayne grabbed the cross and said everyone there needed to buy one.

Campbell sold all 60 of his crosses that day, and he and his wife received invitations to attend other events.

From that day, he decided to devote his life to making crosses. He feels like his family's mission is to bring hope of healing to other families, he said, through the unique crosses he carves and his family helps to design.

His wooden crosses and crucifixes each feature a St. Benedict Medal – one of the oldest Catholic medals, and with its message "Vade retro satana" ("Step back, Satan") it is a popular sacramental used to ward off spiritual and physical dangers, especially those related to evil, temptation and poison.

031315-cross-st-benedict2031315-cross-st-benedict3031315-cross-st-benedict4Campbell explains that each cross is made from solid wood. He uses two types of wood fashioned together to represent a man and a woman united in marriage, or three types of wood to symbolize the Trinity. He crafts a number of designs based on feedback from his wife and children and others: some featuring a corpus, some in the shape of a Celtic cross, some with blessed salt inserted in them. But they all feature a St. Benedict Medal at their center.

Campbell and his wife are now Oblates of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace, a "private association of the faithful" in Davidson, and their family has a great devotion to St. Benedict.

Their "Cross of St. Benedict" family ministry aims to promote devotion to the St. Benedict Medal and to the Rule of St. Benedict as a guide for family life, to promote daily prayer as the work of God ("Opus Dei") to heal broken and dispirited families, and to encourage Catholic families to display sacred art in their homes.

"Having a visible sign of this cross in our homes not only protects us from evil, it is also a reminder of our salvation and an invitation to take up our daily crosses and follow the Lord," the Campbells write on their website.

Proceeds from sales of their artwork benefit the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace, and their parish.

The family has also shared their testimony of healing through talks and prayer – emphasizing every family's need to grow spiritually together as well as individually, to fend off divisiveness and promote unity, and above all, to encourage every family to pray and seek the sacraments.

They write on their website, "Our testimony is about the healing of our family from what seemed like an impossible task of healing 'family wounds and heart brokenness' and chronic physical and psychological disorders." Through their experiences of the mercy and love of Jesus, they write, "We have peace in our family life. And, we have begun to share to other families how to attain this peace too."

— Amber Mellon, correspondent

Learn more

See more photos of Patrick Campbell's wooden crosses online at www.crossofstbenedict.com or call them for more information at 1-888-510-4492.