Saint Luke Productions' traveling play “Vianney” was a featured event at the fall assembly of the USCCB this year. But the play wasn't just entertainment, it was a message to the bishops that despite all the negative publicity concerning the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Catholics across the country love their bishops, their priests and the example of sacrifice that John Vianney embodied.
Francis Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, invited St. Luke Productions to the fall meeting. He has also hosted the play for 400 priests in his own Archdiocese of Chicago, and for 800 people at Chicago's Mundelein Seminary.
“The play Vianney was marvelously well done, of course, and it is as powerful as it is because John Vianney's story is one that continues always with the principalities and powers in conflict with the grace of Christ, which is the key to that battle,” Cardinal George said in a press release. “I think the play brings it home to priests... We have many administrative problems and we have this and that to deal with in the Church, but in the end it is about the story of sin and grace as seen in this drama. We are grateful as priests for the role that our vocation provides to bring us into this battle,” he continued.
The play itself is produced by Leonardo Defilippis, director and star of the film “Thérèse.” It tells the story of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars,who lived from 1786 to 1859. Though St. John Vianney was no intellectual giant, he revived the faith of the community of Ars and pilgrims came to hear him preach and confess their sins from across Europe.
St. John Vianney is known as the patron of parish priests.
"This kind of event is just what Pope Benedict intended when he instituted a Year for Priests," remarked Karissa Burt, the Live Drama Coordinator for Saint Luke Productions. "The people are so grateful to Leonardo Defilippis for answering his call."
The production of “Vianney” is the first time a live drama production has ever been presented at a meeting of the USCCB. The reactions of the bishops were positive, and attendance for the optional event at the busy conference was high. “It was very inspirational, very moving. Humanity was touched by divinity in this man, and we hope it will bear fruit in this Year for Priests," said Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
For more information about “Vianney,” visit: http://www.vianneydrama.com/