Father Oak


Years ago, my mom attended a class of some kind at Aquinas college in Nashville led by the Dominicans. I wish I could remember who led the class so I could give proper credit (Mom, if you’re reading this can you leave a comment telling me who the sister was?) Anyway, Mom shared a lot of great information with me. At the time, I think our oldest was around 2 maybe. This was to be my first introduction to really “living” the liturgical year, and thanks be to God, it stuck! Looking back, and re-reading some of the information Mom gave to me, I now know that much of what Mom had been given was on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I’m not sure if that was the original topic for discussion at this class, but I think it might have been.

This was the source and beginning of our Feast Day Table, and this was the source for the idea for Father Oak. Originally, I think the plans called for you to cut the shape of Father out of heavy cardboard, but I decided to use wood instead. I drew out a pattern, and my husband bought a piece of oak, and cut him out with a jigsaw. We did find that he needed a small piece of wood to stabilize him and help him stand up from behind – this was easily glued in place. He was sanded, and then we put a coat of polyurethane over the surface. I made vestments out of the different colors of the liturgical year, and as we set out holy reminders on our Feast Table, the kids change Father’s vestments to the appropriate colors. I sewed mine, but this could very easily be a no-sew project with the vestments made out of felt. It has provided many wonderful opportunities to discuss the symbolism of the vestments – like the cincture.


Father Oak was originally faceless. When our oldest was about 6, she wanted him to have a happy face because she said he must love God very much and so he was very happy, she thought. Out of the mouths of babes – so I grabbed my favorite art implement, a black sharpie, and Father Oak was given his happy face.

Here are some pics of Father Oak along with the dimensions and measurements for the patterns. Father stands 8 1/2 inches high, and his “wingspan” from fingertip to fingertip is 6 3/4 inches. If he had been made any smaller it would have been impossible to jigsaw him out of wood, and any larger and it would have taken a lot more material for his vestments. I also didn’t want him to be larger than statues of Our Lord that would be set out on the Feast Table.



The cincture is simply a cord cut to the right length. We do not tie and untie. I knotted very tightly, and then the kids just slide it up his girth until it stays, sliding it down to remove it.

The stole pattern is a simple rectangle with a slit cut up about 3/4 of it. I sewed it leaving an opening at the top. I used a crochet needle to turn it right side out and stitched up the opening. You have to iron it to form creases around the “neck” area so that it lays correctly around Father’s head and drapes down his front. The stole pattern rectangle measures 2 3/4 by 7 inches. The final stole length measures about 6 1/2 inches.


For the chasuble I used the Father Oak pattern and taped pieces of paper together to get the right size of the pattern. I can give my pattern size, but if you make this at home, keep in mind that your pattern will need to be custom sized depending on the thickness of the wood you get, or if you use wood at all. The oval shape is 13 1/4 inches at its longest and 6 1/2 inches across the shoulders. I allowed for a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Again, I just stitched two pieces of material together, inverting and sewing up the opening. The opening for the head was difficult. I found the center, and just cut an X to make the opening for the head. Then I just stitched each flap of the X under. I’m sure there was probably a better way, but that’s what I came up with, and it has held up for 8 years now.

For the Chi-Ro I looked for some pretty embroidery iron-ons for the front of the chasuble, but couldn’t find any. Again, I just drew out a pattern, traced it onto a gold lame’ type fabric (the most awful stuff to work with – I would recommend something else!!) cut it out and used spray adhesive to stick it to the chasuble. This is the one thing that hasn’t held up over the years. The fabric choice was one problem, the spray adhesive might have been another – there are probably better fabric glues I could have used. I am going to remove these, and put something else on the front of my chasubles soon. I have a friend who has one of those great machines that stitch embroidery and has offered to help me. That would look very nice I think, and then I could put different lettering on the front like IHS.


Hope this helps you visualize in some way if you’re interested in trying to use this with your children. I always take an idea and modify 🙂 it a little to fit my family, and would encourage you to do the same with this idea.

June 17, 2009
Some great friends in the blogging world have taken this idea and made it their own with some lovely results. Check out their variations for more inspiration:

Father Birch – Liturgical Year Colors in Our Home by Suzanne at Gladdest Hours
Fr.?????~Liturgical Colors in the Home by Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda

Enjoy these ideas! I hope one of these will inspire you to incorporate the liturgical colors of the year into your home!

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  1. Thanks so so much Jennifer. Your pictures are beautifully clear even for a seriously sewing challenged mum like myself. Once again much thanks for doing this,Father Oak is neat!(quote from ds 10 when I showed him picture!)blessings Alison

  2. “Go Forth and Teach All Nations” was a week long workshop for catechists at Aquinas College in 1999. The main instructor was Sr. Mary Charles, O.P. There was a section on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The entire week was filled with wonderful ideas not only for the classroom but also to help “bring religion home.” we left that workshop with a LARGE 3 ring binder full of wonderful material.

  3. Jennifer: My dad is busy making a “Father Birch” for us. We’ll hopefully have it before we leave MN! I just sent him the link to your “Father Oak” and VOILA! Thanks for posting all the pics. You’re da-best!

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