WHEN former Holy Spirit seminarian Chris Ledwich fell ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a third time, a new vocation was in order – handcrafted Paschal candles.
“I’ve always had a passion for beauty and design,” Mr Ledwich said.
“There was a big intellectual part to my faith journey at (Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane), but having that taken away from me through the illness was a very difficult process.”
Mr Ledwich could no longer engage in the intellectual pursuit of truth offered at the seminary; instead, he came to appreciate a new form of truth.
“I found an appreciation for truth, no longer necessarily through the intellect, but through beauty and aesthetics,” he said.
“Throughout the Church’s history, beauty has always been a way of communicating to the illiterate.
“For me at that time I needed that kind of grace.”
Mr Ledwich’s role as sacristan at the seminary led him into the world of handcrafted Paschal candles.
“As sacristan you have to keep the chapel running and make sure you have all the (necessities), and one of those things is the Paschal candle,” he said.
“At that point the seminary was new and getting set up.
“They’d just moved back to Banyo and everything was starting from scratch.
“They had been using some simple stickers on a candle for Paschal candles and I was looking at it that year and thought to myself, ‘I reckon I could do something at least as good as some stickers’.
“So that year I did the cross and alpha and omega. I carved and painted it in.
“The following year I did it again, and each year I got more and more ambitious.
“I realised if I was able to make a mould of one of these candles then there might be a viable business in there.”
Mr Ledwich said each candle took about 50 hours to make – a process he found relaxing.
“They do take quite a lot of time to make each one,” he said.
“And for the rest of the Easter season you’re watching it burn down. It certainly helps with letting go.”
Mr Ledwich said making the candles combined his passion of design, beauty and the truth of the Gospel.
“That unity of truth, beauty and goodness is where the passion is,” he said.
“Beauty can help people come to a greater appreciation of truth and the goodness of the Gospel – goodness in terms of both the quality of the candle, using quality ingredients, quality materials, and a certain integrity and authenticity in the production process.” – Nicholas Holt