Easter traditions live on
As Catholics around the world prepare to celebrate the most important Christian festival, 98-year-old Michael Potoczky took time to reflect on his faith and the contribution he has made to beautiful artworks that many churchgoers will see this Easter.
Celebrating his birthday on March 26, Mr Potoczky said his faith has always been a guiding light and it was through his involvement with Holy Spirit Church at Seacombe Gardens that he crossed paths with renowned ecclesiastical artist Voitre Marek in the 1960s.
Besides their faith, the two forged a connection through their work.
At the time, Czech-born Voitre was on a mission to live his Catholic faith by creating beautiful pieces to adorn the walls of local churches and schools. Mr Potoczky, who had trained as a scale maker in his homeland of Hungary, became a metalworker when he arrived in Australia in 1950.
So when Voitre wanted to employ extra hands to help with his projects in the 1960s, Mr Potoczky was happy to learn new skills and assist in creating wonderful pieces for people of faith to view in their churches.
One church where Voitre’s artwork is proudly on display is Holy Cross Church, Goodwood. Mr Potoczky was involved in the metal and enamel work on the large steel rod, copper and enamel triptych behind the altar, as well as helping build the unusual exterior cross atop the church.
“I remember we watched the moon landing on television together when I was working with him at this church and I remember the day they lifted the cross on to the top of the building and all the school children came out to see,” he said.
“I was learning all the time from Voitre and he taught me about working with copper as I had never done that before.
“But as one of his students once said to me, Voitre was the only one who really knew what he was talking about, so I started to go to night school and did a blacksmiths course as well.”
Having been back to Holy Cross only once since the artwork was installed many years ago, the second visit last month was filled with nostalgia.
Mr Potoczky said while the interior of the church had changed the artwork was as he remembered it and he took time to admire the Stations of the Cross, which Voitre completed by himself some years later.
The Stations, which represent the 14 key moments in the trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus Christ, are the focus for Christians on Good Friday.
For Mr Potoczky they have been part of his Easter traditions for nearly a century and he recalled a particularly poignant event when he was in Israel in 1977.
“I was in Jerusalem and was taking part in the Stations of the Cross. There are no pictures, but Roman numerals only and everyone of us had a turn trying to carry the wooden cross. That’s something I will always remember,” he said.
Still living independently since the passing of his wife Magda, who was also very active in the Seacombe Gardens (now St Ann’s) parish, Mr Potoczky said he was no longer able to get to Mass at Holy Spirit Church but was grateful that an extraordinary minister was able to bring him communion each Sunday for the past decade.
“I still read the Bible and every morning and night I say the prayer of St Therese of the Child Jesus. My faith is very important to me,” he said.
For details of Stations of the Cross and Easter services go to www.adelaide.catholic.org.au or download the Archdiocese of Adelaide AppJump to next article