The power of human potential to be portrayed in 'Vianney'

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By Special to the Monitor

The live theatrical one-man drama, “Vianney,” performed by Leonardo Defilippis, will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Alamos.

The Los Alamos performance will be the third stop in the New Mexico tour of this acclaimed production of the life of St. John Vianney. Other performances will take place at St. Anne’s Church in Santa Fe today, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Rio Rancho Sunday,

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Farmington Wednesday, the Bascillica of San Albino in Mesilla Thursday and the final at Holy Child Catholic Church in Tijeras on Nov. 6.

“Vianney” tells the story of St. John Vianney. Commonly known as the Curé of Ars, Vianney lived in the era following the French Revolution, which had decimated the Catholic faith in France. A poor peasant, incompetent in his studies of Latin and theology, he was ordained anyway because of the shortage of priests.

Vianney was then sent off to the obscure village of Ars, where the people had fallen into decadence, crime and debauchery. In his determination to save every single soul put into his care, he encountered tremendous resistance and even violent supernatural attacks.

Many nights, witnesses attested, the furniture was thrown around the rectory supernaturally and the next morning the Curé emerged bruised and exhausted.

Vianney courageously overcame these attacks, and succeeds not only in reforming the

lives of his parishioners, but also in drawing, by his holiness and his ability to read souls,

hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the tiny parish.

Sixteen hours a day were spent in the cramped confessional, and people were willing to wait in line for days for a few minutes of his counsel. Vianney himself found the onslaught difficult to bear, and even tried to escape to a monastery to live and pray in peace.

 In the end, however, he returned to his flock, recognizing his role as “the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.”

“I find the character of John Vianney extremely endearing,” Defilippis said. “He was a

truly eccentric character, wearing a ragged cassock, living on a diet of nothing but one

potato a day, yet sparing no expense for the church or his children.

"His love and concern

for the salvation of every single person he encountered came through in his every word and action," he said. "There is an urgency in him that is extraordinarily compelling and convicting.”

Defilippis, a distinguished actor trained in the Shakespearean theater tradition,

 is best known for his direction and starring role in the feature film, “Thérése,” th which generated grassroots support and played in mainstream movie theaters for 70 weeks and is now in DVD release.

His nonprofit company Saint Luke Productions has for 30 years produced live, film and television dramas on the scriptures and the lives of the saints.

 The company's live productions have toured the U.S., Canada and Europe, with audiences totaling more than 1 million people. Their film productions have received numerous prestigious awards and have been seen by audiences all over the world.

Defilippis and St. Luke Productions last performed at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos on March 1 with the presentation of “The Gospel According to John.”

IHM is excited about Defilippis’ return visit for the production of the one-man drama “Vianney.”  

The performance will last approximately 90 minutes and there will be no intermission. “Vianney” is suitable for ages 9 and older and there is no charge for admission, although a free-will offering will be received to defray the expenses of hosting the production.  

For more information, contact Miracle Romero at the parish office at 662-6193.