ERIE, Pa. (CNA) — Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., and every one of his priests, now has a bobblehead doll in his likeness, thanks to one priest who wanted to show appreciation for his service.

Father John Detisch of Sacred Heart Catholic Church told CNA on Aug. 4 that he ordered 180 bobbleheads for the 29th annual convocation of the diocese’s priests in June. The date of the gathering fell near the bishop’s 75th birthday.

The priest kept the gifts secret until the event, where he distributed the dolls in individually wrapped boxes. He made sure that the priests opened their boxes all at once.

The sight of the figures caused a “wave of hysteria” from the clergy.

“Bishop Trautman himself held his bobblehead in his hand and was roaring, just roaring, and shaking his head,” Father Detisch said.

“That was the funny part: just to see Bishop Trautman laugh hysterically as he’s looking at his own head bobbing up and down.”
Bishop Trautman was good-natured about the doll and said the likeness was “pretty close.” He said he appreciated the “creative gift,” the Erie Times-News reported.

The bishop has put his bobblehead on a bookcase in his residence.

“Bishop Trautman was so delighted,” Father Detisch said. “It was just intended to be an act of affection from his priests to honor him in such a way. It was not to make fun of him, by any means. He’s been our bishop for 21 years.”

He called the bobblehead doll “the perfect tool to honor a bishop that we’ve really become close to.”

The priest explained that he got the idea for the doll several months ago. He was contemplating what to do for the convocation while looking at his bobblehead of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey star Sydney Crosby.

“It was like a bell went off,” Father Detisch said.

Oh, a Bishop Trautman bobblehead could be one of the funniest stunts I’ve ever pulled, he told himself at the time.

The priest found a company in Atlanta that makes the figures of prominent people, including one of Pope Benedict XVI. He sent in a couple of photographs of his bishop to have the doll made.

The dolls, made in China, had an unintended layover in a New York customs office, which halted the shipment.

Father Detisch had to explain to officials that the boxes contained bobbleheads of his bishop.

Now he is planning how to fulfill the many requests of people who want their own Bishop Trautman bobblehead. He wants to provide one to “whoever wants one,” but cost will be a factor, depending on the size of the order he submits.

Joseph Lemmo, a parishioner of St. George Catholic Church, told the Erie News-Times he wants one.

Lemmo called Bishop Trautman a “great man” and said he would be honored to add the bishop’s bobblehead to the case in his memorabilia room, where he already has a couple of sports figurines.