PARKS, La. — It was 2005, 2006, and Father Bryce Sibley was the new pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in the St. Martin Parish town of Parks.
He wanted round, medallion paintings hung above the congregation.
“To make St. Joe’s in Parks look a bit more beautiful,” says Sibley. “To make it a bit more attractive for those who came to worship.”
He hired artist Christie Hebert Hollier to do one of those paintings; and he wanted her to add a rather unique element to—of all things—the Last Supper.
“I had the artist put a little bottle of Tabasco sauce on the table next to St. Peter,” smiles Sibley, “and I thought people knew it was there but, 15 years later, it kind of explodes and people are sort of like, ‘How did it get there?’”
An even bigger question was, ‘Is this even real?’, and asking that were the Tabasco people themselves.
In fact, in February of this year, Tabasco archivist Shane Bernard sent a letter to the new pastor at St. Joseph, Father Nicholas DuPre’. DuPre’ had never looked himself, so he soon grabbed a ladder in an attempt to solve the mystery.
“My first reaction is that Shane is going to be glad is that this image is not trying to say, ‘Find shapes in the clouds’,” explains DuPre’. “It is clearly a bottle of Tabasco. It doesn’t quite have the lettering, but it has the color, it has the shape, and it’s where is should be: next to a plate of food.”
DuPre’ has embraced his predecessor’s vision, and he loves how Tabasco At The Last Supper has put forth the collaboration of messages and themes.
“I think it gives us a human side of what we do. As Catholics, we have a meal at the heart of the way we worship God, so I see it as a beautiful and humorous marriage of our Catholic culture and our local and Cajun culture.”
As for Father Sibley, while it was never his grand plan to have the Tabasco At The Last Supper become a cultural phenomenon of sorts 16-or-17 years later, he does see this as perhaps a golden opportunity to present an invitation to the public.
“There’s a humor, Jesus is humorous, there’s humor in scripture,” adds Sibley. “Quite often I think being funny is a great tool for evangelization. If people are going to come to the church just to look at this, maybe sit and take some time for prayer, who knows?”
“Maybe people will be brought back to the church.”
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