Catholic artist John Sustaita's faith guides his work

Story by Jacqueline Burkepile

Photos by Francine Sustata

North Texas Catholic

Local Catholic artist John Sustaita spends countless hours working on Catholic devotional work and plans to donate three of his paintings to the Bishop's Pro-life Banquet to held Saturday, Sept. 29.
Local Catholic artist John Sustaita spends countless hours working on Catholic devotional work and plans to donate three of his paintings to the Bishop's Pro-life Banquet to held Saturday, Sept. 29. 

All are called to protect the unborn, but not many are called to help with the pro-life movement in the way this artist is. Painting for the prolife cause is what John Sustaita currently does on a regular basis from the comfort of his own home. The Irving native resides in Keller, spending uncounted hours working on Catholic devotional artwork. He plans to donate three of his paintings to the Bishop’s Pro-life Banquet to be held Saturday, Sept. 29.

Sustaita said the primary reason he will donate the paintings is to raise money for the pro-life cause. “Money is a tool that we can use for the greater glory of God,” said Sustaita. “Anything that I can do with my pieces to generate money, I’m happy. I know that it generates money to support a cause for children.”

Sustaita revealed two of the three pieces he plans to donate to the banquet. The first is a painting of the crucified Jesus on top of a crucifix cut-out made of wood, which is three and a half feet long and two and a half feet wide. He said it is a classical style panel piece, inspired by Spanish and French artists. Sustaita said the crucified Jesus has his eyes wide open, with blood pouring from his side into a chalice. He said even though Jesus looks with his eyes open, there is a sense of abandonment and loneliness.

“He’s looking at you and it’s not even one of agony, but it’s one of ‘Carry the cross. At the end, there is a wonderful life — a full life with me.’” 

Sustaita added that the painting is primarily about life. 

He believes Catholics will see the truth of the painting. “They’ll see that because of the Communion during Mass,” said Sustaita. “They’ll see that ‘there’s the life-blood; there’s the life within the Church. There’s the Eucharist: the Body of Christ.’”

Sustaita said his second piece is a Spanish-Colonial style painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, standing two feet tall and one-and-a-half feet in width. It will be cut out of panel wood, with a plaster frame around it and gold leafing.

“She’s always with us,” said Sustaita. “I’m sure that her mantle of protection is over us, the pro-life banquet, and the pro-life movement.” 

Sustaita said the third piece will have a prolife theme to it as well. He referred to this painting as the “mystery piece.” He wants everyone to anticipate seeing it, while encouraging more people to attend the Bishop’s Annual Pro-Life Banquet. 

When asked what encouraged him to donate  to the pro-life banquet, Sustaita said this is the best way he can contribute to the pro-life movement using the talent God gave him. He added that growing up in a household with four siblings motivated him in his involvement with the movement.

“Coming from a big family and seeing the joy of what families can do for the siblings within is just incredible,” said Sustaita. “I’d like to share that with others .… That way, they can see that there are other children who come into this world with a full life — a wonderful life.”

Chanacee Ruth-Killgore, outgoing director of the Catholics Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Fort Worth, said she loves art and looks forward to seeing Sustaita’s work at the banquet. She believes it is important to support local artists by showcasing them at the annual event.

“John is very, very talented and passionately Catholic,” said Ruth-Killgore. “I always look forward to seeing his work. I have two of his pieces in my home that I greatly enjoy.”

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Ruth-Killgore added that Sustaita is very dedicated to the pro-life movement. She said he donated a beautiful cross last year, so she asked him to donate another piece this year. However, she wasn’t expecting him to offer to donate three pieces of artwork.

When I first saw his work I was so impressed that I promptly asked him to donate an item to the banquet’s silent action,” said Ruth-Killgore.

“This will be the second year he has given of his time and talent to the banquet.”

Sustaita said his future goals as an artist include selling prints of his artwork in Catholic bookstores across the globe. He hopes to donate part of the proceeds to the pro-life movement.

Sustaita said he wants people to know the importance of involvement in pro-life efforts.

“You do find yourself within the prolife movement. You really do,” said Sustaita. You’ll find the meaning of life and how it’s a communion.


Bishop’s Annual Catholic Pro-Life Banquet 

The Bishop’s Annual Catholic Pro-Life Banquet is the primary fundraiser for the ministries of Catholics Respect Life of the Diocese of Fort Worth. All funds raised at the banquet benefit the ministries of Catholics Respect Life. These ministries include:

Youth for Life offers educational opportunities for young people
discussing such things as chastity, what abortion is, and promoting
activity in pro-life events, such as:

  •  Pro-Life Boot Camp
  •  Lock in for Life
  •  Pure by Choice Rally

Rachel Ministries offers hope and healing to those suffering
from an abortion in their past, most usually via a retreat process.
While there are nominal fees charged for these retreats, no one is
ever turned away because of an inability to pay.

Gabriel Project offers spiritual and emotional support to women
in crisis pregnancies. When necessary, material support may also
be offered to help them.

 

sustaitia-button.jpgAll are called to protect the unborn, but not many are called to help with the pro-life movement in the way this artist is. Painting for the prolife cause is what John Sustaita currently does on a regular basis from the comfort of his own home.

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