Catholic Graphic Designer’s Resolution to Leave Planned Parenthood Opens Door to Creating Sacred Art

Matt Lorens is also creating Catholic board games to teach the faith.

Matt Lorens devotes his expertise full time to sacred art and building a culture of life, including through creating Catholic educational board games to help advance and preserve the faith in children.
Matt Lorens devotes his expertise full time to sacred art and building a culture of life, including through creating Catholic educational board games to help advance and preserve the faith in children. (photo: Matt Lorens)

For much of the time Matt Lorens worked at Planned Parenthood Federation of America as an IT professional, he didn’t question whether it was right for him as a Catholic who opposed abortion to be there.

“Working at the headquarters in New York City,” he told the Register, “I never witnessed anything that happened in a clinic. It was strictly an office environment, and I was just doing my work, designing graphics, programming websites. For a good number of years, I never gave much thought to what this company is doing.”

But when his son, Michael, was born with cerebral palsy, someone asked him why he and his wife hadn’t aborted their baby after learning he would be disabled. “I said, ‘How could you say that? He’s a gift from God,’” Lorens said. “Maybe that was one of the ways God was talking to me because I was working there.”

Lorens eventually began to consider leaving Planned Parenthood but spent a year struggling over how he would support his family if he did.

“I tried to make excuses, like, ‘They don’t just do abortions — they do a lot of other good things, like breast cancer testing,’” he said.

Ultimately, after almost 11 years at Planned Parenthood, he gave up a good salary and a generous benefits package to take a step that led him into a deeper faith life and a career change. Lorens now runs Traditio Designs, a business that seeks to restore people’s faith in God with handmade holy cards, framed pictures, rosaries and other items such as bookmarks and note cards.

“I wanted to evangelize the world through the beauty of Catholic art,” Lorens told the Register. He bases his work on photographs of statues and stained glass, adding prayers, some of which are long forgotten. “I try to put my soul and heart into everything I create. I want it to be beautiful, to give each person a way to connect with Jesus and Mary.”

After leaving the nation’s No. 1 abortion provider, Lorens went on to work for two other companies. In 2018, he started applying his digital design skills to Catholic artwork, focusing on framed images of Mary and the angels that could be hung on a wall. “I never planned to create holy cards or rosaries,” he said. “I never even thought of that.”

What happened next caused him to reconsider what he was doing professionally.

He and his family lost everything in a house fire in 2017 and Lorens cried out to God, “Father, what are you trying to tell me here?” At the time, he had been working on an image of St. Uriel, an archangel who is commemorated in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic traditions and whose name means the “fire of God.” He decided it might be a sign he should pursue his Catholic artwork full time.

Although holy cards now dominate his inventory, Lorens didn’t start making them until 2019, after taking his artwork to the American-Polish festival at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He later opened his Trade Catholic Art store on Etsy, drawing thousands of customers from around the world, and also continues to sell his work at Catholic conferences. In 2022, he introduced his handmade rosaries at the Fatima Center Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire. To honor the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy, he closes his Etsy store on Sundays.

Currently, he is working on adding a set of 20 holy cards with prayers that support the pro-life cause. In addition, he has created 10 Catholic educational board games to help advance and preserve the faith in children. These are not yet available for purchase but include “The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart Memory Game,” which will cover about 40 Marian apparitions, and “The Holy Quest,” which teaches players about various saints and religious orders. Lorens thinks Catholic families, especially those who home-school, will warm to the games. He is attempting to raise money through GiveSendGo to produce “The Holy Quest.”

Catholic game
Faith-based games will soon be available.(Photo: Courtesy of Matt Lorens)

In his store, his most popular items are images of angels, but his top seller is a large prayer card detailing the Most Precious Blood of Jesus devotion of St. Bridget of Sweden, a set of prayers to be said for 12 years. Attached to the prayers are several promises, including that no one in the four successive generations of the soul who prays them will be lost.

Lorens said he starts with photographs that he has taken himself or acquired, adapting them digitally and adding appropriate prayers. “I never use any photos as they come out from my camera. In fact, especially when it comes to stained-glass images, my final version may be a collage of several different photos of a saint from different churches. This makes my images unique.”

He prints all the holy cards on his own equipment, cuts them out manually and in some cases spray-coats them with UV protection before laminating them. The rosaries are made with semi-precious stones and other purchased components, but he has designed the crucifixes and centerpieces and had them produced.

A native of Poland who immigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was 15, Lorens had originally planned to go to medical school and become a surgeon, but he became interested in web design through a computer science course he took during his last year of college. After eight years with the U.S. Army, where he served as a medic, nurse and truck driver, he returned to his love of information technology and took the job at Planned Parenthood.

Although he was born into a Catholic family, Lorens said his early faith life consisted mainly of going to Mass on Sunday and attending after-school religion classes. “In our family, we didn’t have the tradition of praying the Rosary as a family and we didn’t really read the Bible.”

Near the end of his time at Planned Parenthood, he had what he describes as a born-again experience. “I was reading a Catholic book by a modern-day visionary, and I fell on my knees next to the couch and started crying like a baby — and I never cry. I had two clear thoughts in my head. One was ‘If you don’t change your life, you’re going to hell.’ The second was ‘You’ve just been unplugged from the Matrix.’” Lorens said the first DVD he ever purchased was of The Matrix, a 1999 film about a computer hacker who is freed from the false reality created by a computer system.

“I was not scared, but sorry for offending [Jesus] in so many ways. I guess I thought to myself, ‘How could I ever look him in the face?’ It was profound, and I cannot deny what I experienced that day. ... That was really when I woke up from this secular world.”

Not long after, Lorens began praying a daily Rosary, something he had never done. Then, he added the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and determined he would pray both daily for the rest of his life. “If I miss a day, I make it up,” he said, adding he once made up a month of missed Rosaries after not being able to pray when he was sick with COVID.

He also was led to settle his family in Edmeston, New York, because of the town’s connection to the Blessed Mother and his devotion to her. Edmeston is the site of the Rosa Mystica House of Prayer, which is tied to a Marian devotion dating to 1947 in which the Blessed Mother reportedly appeared to an Italian laywoman under the title of “Mystical Rose.”

Living off the income from his own business, he said, has not been easy, especially with his wife, Aneta, staying home to care for their children. But he said, “It’s all in the Providence of God, and I rely on him completely, and I don’t ask any questions. So far, he’s been very gracious.”

Lorens said it is still incredible to him that as a Catholic man he worked at Planned Parenthood so long without realizing where he really was. “It is even more incredible that God finally got me out of there, and my faith has grown so much since then. I don’t want to do anything else now but to help save souls and glorify God.”