As a student at Loyola University Chicago, Fr. Arthur Poulin ’68 spent his junior year abroad in Rome, Italy.
That’s where it all changed for him. He rediscovered his Christian roots, let himself be moved by Italian art and found his calling.
“I got on a spiritual path then,” Fr. Arthur says. “I felt a call to religious life, and ultimately, to priesthood.”
A fine arts major at Loyola, Fr. Arthur now serves as a Camaldolese monk, priest and artist at Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, Calif. His impressive artwork captures California seascapes and landscapes from around the world, complementing his role as a priest and monk nicely. He paints about four hours daily.
“There’s been a long tradition of major artists in our community,” says Fr. Arthur, whose parents collected art and often visited museums with him.
In his youth, he dabbled in art. “When I finally took it seriously, great things started to happen,” he states.
Today, he states, “I see art as a way to preach the good news through landscapes and creation, nothing less. In many ways my spiritual journey and my artwork are one and the same journey. Painting has been a revelation to me of God. It’s a search for the things that are most human and divine in us.”
Monks and priests have distinct callings, he explains. To be a monk is to live a monastic life characterized by prayer, work, hospitality and outreach to all people. Not all monks are called to be priests, but many, like him, are.
The Camaldolese, an order founded in Tuscany 1,000 years ago, have deep spiritual roots. Their days start with vigils at 5:30 a.m., followed by lauds, a recitation of the psalms, and scripture readings. Evening (vespers) and nighttime prayers conclude the day.
“These prayer times call you back to what is important and what is central,” Fr. Arthur says. This rhythm of life that monks have is really quite brilliant. I’ve spent 40 years in this life. It’s an ongoing spiritual journey. You have to recommit all the time. You can never rest on your laurels.”
To see Fr. Arthur’s artwork, visit fatherarthurpoulin.org
. Look for this year's Gilmour Christmas card, which will feature one of his pieces.