5 sites in diocese to host drama on St. John Vianney Feb. 22-26

A live, theatrical one-man drama based on the life of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of all priests, will be performed at five locations in the Diocese of Peoria during the week of Feb. 22-26.

Featuring veteran actor Leonardo Defilippis, “Vianney” is touring the U.S. as part of the worldwide celebration of the Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI. It will be presented within the diocese later this month in Peoria, Galesburg, Peoria Heights, Peru, and Moline.

The play introduces audiences to St. John Vianney, “one of the most incredible saints in the church, but not that well known,” according to Defilippis, 57, a trained Shakespearean actor and founder of St. Luke Productions, a Catholic theater and film company. The play, he said, also gives a new and encouraging answer to the question, “What is a priest?”

The production runs about 90 minutes and includes numerous costumes and a musical score. Because of scenes that portray St. John Vianney’s reported confrontations with the devil, promoters say it is suitable for ages 9 and up.

A video preview of the drama can be viewed online at www.vianneydrama.com. The site also features background on St. John Vianney, a French country priest who in the early 19th century instilled an apathetic town with the desire to live the Gospel. Known as the Cure of Ars — meaning “the parish priest from Ars,” the rural village where he spent his priest of life — Father Vianney spent 16 to 18 hours per day in the confessional, and an estimated 100,000 pilgrims per year visited the town.

Following are the stops on the Diocese of Peoria Tour of “Vianney.” Contacts for tickets and more information at each location are also listed. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

All priests, seminarians, Religious and deacons will be admitted free of charge.

Monday, Feb. 22: Peoria, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 607 N.E. Madison, 7 p.m. Admission, $5 per person. Sponsored by St. Mary’s Parish, Metamora. Contact Father Don Roskowski, (309) 367-4407, frdon2003@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, Feb. 23: Galesburg, Costa Catholic Academy’s Brophy Auditorium, 2726 Costa Dr., 7 p.m. Admission, $5 per person, $20 family rate. Free for priests, seminarians, Religious and deacons. Sponsored by the Rosminians and Costa Catholic Academy. Contact Corpus Christi Parish Office, (309) 343-8256, adorecc7@gmail.com

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Peoria Heights, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 904 E. Lake Ave, 7 p.m. Admission, $5 per person, $20 family rate. Contact, St. Thomas Parish Office, (309) 688-3446, parishoffice@stthomaspeoria.org.

Thursday, Feb. 25: Peru, St. Joseph’s School Gym, 1929 5th St.. Admission, free-will offering. Contact St. Joseph’s Parish Office, (815) 223-0718, parishcenter@perucatholic.org.

Friday, Feb. 26: Moline, Sacred Heart Church, 1307 17th Ave. Admission, $5 per person, $20 family rate. Contact the Lee Parish Center, (309) 762-2362.

Sponsors of the drama expressed excitement about hosting the performances in the diocese.

“Leonardo Defilippis’ moving portrayal of Vianney’s life is a perfect opportunity for all Christians to come together and pray for more people to answer God’s call to the service of the church,” said Father Don Roszkowski, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Metamora who was instrumental in bringing the production to the diocese. His parish will sponsor the opening night performance at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“We are very fortunate to have this caliber of theater right in our own communities,” said Father Roszkowski.

“When I was in the seminary, one of the saints that inspired me as I discerned a vocation to the priesthood was St. John Vianney,” said Msgr. Dale Wellman, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline, which will host the play’s final performance in the diocese on Friday, Feb. 26.

“When I heard this production was coming to the Diocese of Peoria, I immediately inquired if we could be one of the parishes to host it,” continued Msgr. Wellman. “From friends who have seen the production, they informed me if I have the opportunity to see it, do so.”

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