Heart of Passion: Ed Proskie creates wood carvings of Jesus

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 7, 2024) Local

Ed Proskie with carvings

Ed Proskie displays his artwork in his shop. (NTC/Richard Rodriguez) 

Good Shepherd parishioner Ed Proskie of Euless lives in constant pain, the result of multiple health issues that limit his ability to travel, move, exercise, even simply take a walk.

At the age of 69, he has retired twice in his life, first from a career in the U.S. military and later from a second career as an insurance fraud investigator.

But he has rediscovered a hobby he first took up in the 1970s, a purpose that allows him to use his hands and express his passion for Christ.

“I decided to pick up relief wood carving again, and I felt a calling,” Proskie shared. “Just a calling to do something religious related.”

Sharing the Passion

“I have multiple medical conditions that restrict me from traveling, doing any sports. I can’t golf; I haven’t been able to go for decades,” Proskie said. “It’s primarily my back — I’ve had 12 back surgeries and have hardware installed there.”

He has long dealt with the chronic pain, but recently, his legs have started to trouble him as well. 

“I had to get an artificial knee on my right leg a few years ago. And now my left leg,” he said. Proskie, who walks with a cane, said his ankle has also become problematic.

His pain, he said, gives him a strong connection to his faith. 

close up of hands creating art
Ed Proskie creates his artwork in his shop. (NTC/Richard Rodriguez) 

“I have a very strong religious passion for Jesus’ suffering. I think I developed that because of my own personal suffering, and I have learned to thank God and thank Jesus for my suffering,” he shared. 

His passion is a part of his daily life.

“I put my sufferings at the foot of the cross along with Jesus Christ’s suffering that He went through,” Proskie said. “I pray every day for that, you know, thanking Jesus for His salvation of us by giving up His own life for us. I just feel a very strong connection to Christ’s Passion.”

This passion led to his carving subjects.

Proskie feels “a calling to study the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and I’ve read books on that. That’s why I picked some of the patterns for carvings: Jesus, during His Passion; during His time of suffering; pictures of His suffering face carrying the cross.”

Working in wood

Like carving in stone, a wood relief carves figures or patterns in a flat panel of wood. The figures project slightly from the background instead of standing freely.

“I guess it was back in 1977 that I first developed an interest in wood relief, and I carved only a small number of animals,” Proskie recalled. “I have one plaque, one of my first ones, hanging in my bathroom — [the plaque reads] Bath 15 cents — it was a very first-level or beginner’s level of carving I just did on my own.”

The amateur wood carver went online and looked for examples he could carve that were not trademarked.

“I would print the picture and then I would take a piece of tracing paper and trace it to a wooden plaque and then carve the plaque from there,” he said.

After the first few, Proskie put away his tools and didn’t make any more wood relief carvings until he retired. 

Healing wounds

Proskie joined the U.S. Army in 1977 after being commissioned a second lieutenant following graduation from Eastern Michigan University and completing its ROTC training.

Ed Proskie poses with a piece of artwork. (NTC/Richard Rodriguez) 

“I served for 20 years on active duty as a military policeman and for a good amount of that 20 years, I was in CID, which is a Criminal Investigations Division,” the veteran said. The unit is known to investigate felony crimes by members of the U.S. Army and their families in cases including homicide, theft, or sexual assault.

While deployed in Europe during the Cold War, the former military policeman served in Germany where he was an executive officer and aide-de-camp to a high-ranking General, Gordon R. Sullivan, who died earlier this year.

“I saw a lot of very bad things when I was in CID, primarily murder scenes,” Proskie said. Like most investigators, he was most affected by crimes involving children.

After his military retirement, he began a 20-year career as an insurance fraud investigator for three different insurance companies, investigating homeowner, auto, and workers’ compensation claims that were possibly fraudulent.

As a child, he was physically and emotionally abused by his father, whom he said also abused his mother.

“I was brought up in a very, very strict household,” he confided. “A Catholic household, we went to church every Sunday, but between the things in CID and the beatings that I underwent [as a boy], I’ve suffered from PTSD from that. I’m under medical care for that.”

After his mother died, Proskie brought his father from Arizona to live in Euless with him and his wife, Bridget, near the end of his father’s life. His faith strong, he forgave his father before his death. 

Now twice retired, Proskie plans to continue the relief carving. He hopes to find a way for his work to benefit others or his parish in Colleyville.

“I thought of possibly donating them to various fundraisers the church has throughout the year,” he said. “I am not interested in making any money.” 

For the artist, the reward for carving religious images is the tranquility and calm it brings, like a prayer.

Ed Proskie, woodcarving, Passion, pain, art, trending-english