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Sculptor Finds Inspiration from Augustus Tolton Prayer and Tragic Loss

Steven S. Sharp

Nov 30, 2023

"Teach us to be noble servants of Christ until he calls us into the presence of his majesty, there to look upon the Master's loving face. Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen."

Sculptor and welder Forrest “Bud” Tucker himself sounds a bit skeptical at times as he discusses his Venerable Augustus Tolton experience.

He was invited to a blood drive by friend Cheryl Shockley, who had been raising awareness to the plight of gun violence after the loss of her son Jack, in 2020, and while doing so had a spiritual experience. From that experience, the bust of Father Tolton was formed. 

“So, the technician or whoever was trying to calm me down, before I donated blood,” Tucker said. “I close my eyes and then I prayed on my own to Fr. Tolton to calm myself, and while I was doing so, I had the image of the sculpture pop into my head. I just felt this image in my mind, and it was a deep spiritual moving moment. I knew that the holy spirit and Fr. Tolton had done some work in my heart.” 

For Tucker, that moment nearly three years ago would lead him down a path to understanding about himself, Tolton, and the power of the holy spirit, beginning and continuing, with lots of prayer and guidance. 

“I did not tell Cheryl about it at the time, but all the way home I thought about it that day,” Tucker said. “Over the next few weeks, the image and feeling kept coming back, really strong. I was unsure of what to do about it, and I resisted at first, I had never done anything that complicated,” Tucker added. But he then came to the realization that he had to move forward. 

“In the spring of 21 I decided I would do it, listen to the holy spirit and do it,” Tucker said. “I started it in clay from my mind. Later, I finally talked to Cheryl, and showed it to her and her husband. She was moved by it, so I gave it to her, to figure out what to do with it. We took it to our spiritual director, who said we should pray over it, and that helped us.” 

As Tucker continued on the path he felt the holy spirit placed him on, he took time to learn about the man whose vision and experiences initiated his journey. “Cheryl eventually talked to Bishop Perry in Chicago, and we continued to look for guidance from him at the time, Tucker said. “Bishop Perry mentioned that the sculpture was in the spirit of Fr. Tolton, and that it was everything about Fr. Tolton, even though at the time I sculpted it, I knew nothing about him at the time.” 

Tucker, who has been a welding and sculpting for more than 25 years, with more than 40 years of experience in metal and casting work, admits that he has never been so led in an artistic pursuit, leading him to one conclusion, he has been working to refute since that day in 2020. 

“A work will start out one way and always changes, takes on its own form as the process moves along,” Tucker said.

“But this piece never changed. It has remained the same. I feel like that’s because it was from the holy spirit. And I’ve been looking for any sign that it is not, because if I found it, I would say, sure, it was just me. But I haven’t found it.” 


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