The inspiration for the Hands Project can be laid squarely at the feet of Father John Corapi, and of course, my wife. In a CD she was listening to, He recounted the story of St. Francis and the wayward village priest. Barbara was struck by the reverence that St. Francis paid the priest simply because he was the one to bring the Eucharist to his flock. It took only brief reflection for her to come up with a project for us: taking photographs of the hands of priests in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as a project for the Year for Priests. We were able to convince the powers that be that it wasn't a totally nutty plan, and with considerable help we spent two weekends out of four for the next seven months trekking around north Georgia in pursuit of images of priests' hands.
We met some extraordinary men and heard some compelling stories. The generosity of these priests with their time was amazing, especially since we tended to show up on a Saturday afternoon, and there was always a mass looming ahead. Once they got over the shock that we really did want to take pictures of their hands, they participated with great enthusiasm and creativity. This project is truly a collaboration on many levels.
At a time when the Church is reeling under allegations of abuse, and priests feel embattled, we wanted to remind the faithful of the treasure that is the priesthood. We never met a priest like the errant village pastor in Father Corapi's story. We met ordinary-but-extraordinary men, young and old, from all walks of life who have dedicated their lives to serving Christ by serving us.
Photographing these hands, especially focusing in detail on the movements and images of the Eucharist, has left us properly awestruck at the incredible beauty of our faith. It is our hope that these images will remind the faithful of the enormous gifts our priests bring to us: not only Christ in the Eucharist, but Christ in all they do.