The wooden Last Supper

Andy Tofil's Last Supper

A talented volunteer wanted to give back and chose a particularly beautiful way to do it

Volunteer Andy Tofil, filled with love and gratitude toward St. Vincent de Paul, was struck by a bolt of creative inspiration and crafted one of the most beautiful art pieces to be given to SVdP: an intarsia-style wood reimagining of Leonardo Davinci’s The Last Supper, which now adorns the walls of Family Evening Meal for the underserved families of Phoenix.  

When Andy retired, he needed something to do. He never thought he’d get into woodworking, but after his wife challenged him to complete a woodworking project, that’s exactly what he found himself doing. He quickly became a member of a local woodworking shop, then the leader of a local woodworking club, The Grand Woodcrafters.

Tony Tofil poses in his home workshop.
Andy sits at his home workstation in his garage, where he made his version of The Last Supper.

Every year, club members craft more than a thousand hand-made wooden toys, and donate them to local organizations throughout the Valley. Andy made sure they kept the tradition up, and that’s how he first came into contact with SVdP, which receives a couple hundred toys from the club each year.

The first time he came to SVdP's campus, he said, "I was just kind of blown away" by the organization's scope. "This is lot of generous people, help is going right to the people [who need it]."

After a while, Andy had really started to master the basics of woodworking and wanted to challenge himself. He had gotten into this woodworking artform called intarsia, where an art piece is made up of different pieces of wood put together to make a greater image. Think of it almost like each piece of wood is an individual brush stroke.

The jesus on the wooden The Last Supper.
Intarsia pieces are also special because of how many different types of wood that are used. Andy used dozens of types for The Last Supper, from ranging from the light holly to hardy walnut. 

Andy was looking for intarsia projects online when he found one that stuck out to him. It was massive and was more than 800 pieces: a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.  

While Andy isn’t inherently religious, he is spiritual, and felt a calling to work on that intarsia project, then give it to SVdP’s Family Evening Meal, where it would be hung for the families to see everyday.

“You may laugh or think it's stupid, but I believe I was at the direction of my higher power. And that's the only thing I come up with,” he said. “I like doing stuff for people that I can help.”

So Andy set out on his project, working on it on the side and in between other projects for more than a year before it was fully ready. When it was finished, he loaded it up and brought it down to SVdP.

“Cindy was pretty blown away when I brought it down there,” he said.

Cindy Bernardo, the Family Evening Meal Program Manager, didn't know what to expect when he said he made something for the Family Evening Meal. "I was expecting like a jewelry box or something, but he pulled up the cloth and I just I cried," she said. 

"I was expecting like a jewelry box or something, but he pulled up the cloth and I just I cried," Cindy said.

Cindy knew just where to hang it up, and after displaying it on the stage in the Hall of Banners for several weeks for all staff, volunteers, and guests to admire, it was officially hung on the wall.  

“It feels real good,” Andy said. “That’s the kind of stuff that really motivates… that's what we do it for — the looks or the kids' faces [when they see a finished project].”

However, to Cindy, projects and generosity like Andy's take on an even more important meaning.

"When you tell families about it, it really makes them feel special that somebody took that much time to beautify the space that is theirs," she said. "It's in here for us. They know not only staff cares about them, but all the volunteers they've ever met think about them and pray for them all the time. So they need to know that."

In an earlier version of this story, Andy was incorrectly identified as 'Tony.'

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