Sculptor shares his pilgrimage from Molokai to the Vatican

Former Southington resident Dale Zarrella will be featured at the Gura Building, 93 Main St. on March 25. (



Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) executive director Mary DeCroce called Dale Zarrella a “Southington small-town hero.”

Zarrella, a native of town and renowned sculptor with works of art featured at the Vatican, will be returning home on Sunday, March 25 and sharing his story at SoCCA from 1 to 3 p.m.

The artist will share his journey of creating a sculpture of Saint Damien, Saint Marianne and share details about his most current commission of sculpting Brother Joseph Dutton out of a piece of mahogany driftwood that made its way through the ocean to Hawaii 80 years ago. The three mentioned gave their lives caring for the people of Hawaii who became afflicted with Hansen’s Disease, also known as Leprosy, in an epidemic during the 1800s.

Zarrella now resides and works in Hawaii, but returns to town to visit family and friends. Last fall, he presented at SoCCA, and DeCroce described the room as “standing room only.”

He is a story of success, having created the statue of Saint Damien of Molokai for the Damien and Marianne of Molokai Heritage Center in Waikiki. A second copy of the statue was later presented to Pope Benedict XVI in commemoration of Father Damien’s canonization.

Zarella’s finely detailed works of art have made impressions around the world, but one of his early works of art, created when he was just 18, was the crucifix for St. Dominic Catholic Church in town.

“That is when I realized my abilities were truly a gift from above,” said Zarrella. Growing up in Southington, he lived and worked on a farm with his family.

“Working on a farm instilled in me the work ethic it takes to be a sculptor,” he said. “People will tell me I have great patience in order to make these sculptures, but sculpting takes diligence, not patience.”

Some of Zarrella’s works of art took several years to complete, he said.

DeCroce said Zarella’s visit on the 25th will present “A Journey in the Footsteps of the Saints,” and feature a slideshow presentation and discussion about his life’s experiences.

“He is a very inspiring speaker,” DeCroce said. “Guests who attend will be able to meet a very successful, and humble, artist and listen to his inspirations and his experiences.”

Attendees will receive a signed print from Zarella and have a chance to talk and ask questions face to face with the artist.

Regular admission to the event is $15, or $5 for students with ID. SoCCA is located at 93 Main Street next to the Town Hall. Interested guests can register online for tickets or come to SoCCA in person to pre-register for the event.

For more information or to reserve a seat, call (860) 276-1581 or visit .

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