Gifted Kernersville potter reflects on how merging of 'time and talent' changed his life
Sharing his faith with his hands
OAK RIDGE — Peter Strafaci is blessed with many God-given talents. He doesn't hide them under a bushel basket, but rather, he joyfully shares his numerous artistic gifts with the local community, putting them to good use.
Strafaci, a parishioner at Holy Cross Church in Kernersville, is an accomplished potter with a studio at his home in Oak Ridge. He most recently brought his love for pottery into the realm of mosaics to create some faith-based works of art. He also leads retreats using his potter's point of view to illustrate the theme of his presentations.
"My Catholic faith brought me to the realization that I was gifted ... that my Lord gave me those gifts ... particularly the gift of my hands," Strafaci says. "I would often hear at Mass the expression 'time, talent and treasure' and always attributed it only to donations.
"It was the 'time and talent' that struck a note in me. It was at this crossroad that I began to be open to doing talks and retreats, with the incorporation of my pottery. Sharing my faith, my artistry and my hands with both Catholics and non-Catholics has evolved and continues to evolve."
His first introduction to mosaics and pottery was when he was an undergraduate and graduate student at the State University at New Paltz in New York as an art major. He now teaches classes for the Art Alliance of Greensboro, showing others how to express themselves through art.
"As an instructor, I try to spend as much time with beginners ... giving them all the knowledge and encouragement they need to do well," he says. "I try to stress that even in their perceived failed attempt, there are endless possibilities for the piece to keep going forward to its completion. It really goes back to the notion of 'talent' ... each of us are gifted in some way or another, we just have to recognize it and act on it and for someone to acknowledge it.
"I believe God is like that with us ... patiently waiting for us to hear that inner voice that says, 'You are My beloved.' I have seen students who came into my class stone cold, knowing nothing about clay, and who are now producing works worthy of praise."
Strafaci and his wife Carolyn are also deeply committed to a hands-on approach to serving others in the community. Each week they make a two-hour round-trip drive to cook and serve meals for people seeking a respite from daily life at the Well of Mercy retreat center, which is run by the Sisters of Mercy.
"Carolyn and I have been cooking at the Well of Mercy in Hamptonville for the past 12 and a half years. We cook on Thursday. We leave Oak Ridge in the morning, cook and serve lunch, as well as dinner for the guests, then return on Thursday night."
Strafaci also shares his "talents" by leading retreats, incorporating his pottery into the theme of his presentations.
Over the years he has led retreats at his home parish of Holy Cross, as well as for Bible study groups, the Sisters of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God who serve at Pennybyrn at Maryfield in High Point, and in the past five years has facilitated three of the annual retreats at the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville.
Titles of his most recent talks include "The Hands of the Potter" and an Advent day entitled "Let It Be Done Unto Me! Mary's FIAT and What Her YES Means For Us and Our Lives."
"In my retreats where I incorporate my pottery, I stress the importance of connecting with the Heart of Jesus," he says. "I often will use the symbolic key as a gift, made in clay, as representing the key to unlock the door to one's own heart to allow Jesus to come in."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
Check out Peter Strafaci's work
Peter Strafaci's work is exhibited and sold in Greensboro at Natural Alternatives, Sacred Garden Bookstore at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, as well as at the Well of Mercy. His commissioned pottery can also be seen at the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center and the Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University.
For more information about Strafaci and his pottery, go online to his blog at peterstrafaci.blogspot.com