By ST. Luke Productions
Battle Ground, Washington
He was an actor first.
That’s the thing that inspired me to start Saint Luke Productions.
Pope John Paul II, who’ll be canonized, started out as an actor.
In 2003, I brought “Thérèse” to the Vatican for an official screening. John Paul II blessed the actual film canisters used in the projection of the film. But he didn’t see the feature film then.
A year later, I received a letter from some close friends of Blessed John Paul II, inviting me to Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence, to meet the Holy Father. What an opportunity!
My wife Patti, cinematographer Lourds Ambrose and I traveled to the medieval village of Castel Gandolfo where we naively hoped to bring the Holy Father to a movie theater and screen the film for him privately. But we soon discovered that the Pope was just too sick for anything of the sort. Our hosts offered us little hope of his seeing the film at all.
But then I remembered that we had a VHS copy of “Thérèse” — perhaps these friends could bring it into the Holy Father at his papal residence and show it to him? They agreed. A day later, I was thrilled to learn that the Holy Father had, in fact, seen the film. So the trip was worth it.
There’s another reason I feel a close connection with Blessed John Paul II. I’ve produced dramas on two of the Polish saints he canonized in his pontificate: Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint Faustina Kowalska. Together these three — John Paul II, Maximilian and Faustina — are called the modern-day “Apostles of Mercy.”
Maximilian Kolbe, who died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, sacrificing his life for another man, is the subject of our live and video drama, “Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz.” [www.StMaxDrama.com]
I’m convinced that Kolbe’s connection to Pope John II runs very deep. He died at Auschwitz in 1941 and just four months later, the young actor Karol Wojtyla decided to leave his theatrical ambitions behind and become a priest. I can’t help thinking that in a mysterious way, Saint Maximilian paved the way for the world-shaking pontificate of John Paul II. Perhaps the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union would not have collapsed without the sacrifice of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. I’ve also recently produced the live multi-media drama,”Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy,” [www.DivineMercyDrama.com] which tells the story of the Polish nun whose mystical visions of Jesus in the 1930’s sparked a new worldwide devotion to God’s mercy. The drama is currently playing in sold out venues all over the country.
How appropriate that John Paul II should be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast that he instituted in response to the visions of Saint Faustina. This beautiful feast celebrates God’s unbelievable love and generosity. In addition to the saint’s life, “Faustina” includes a present-day story of sin, suffering and forgiveness that is having a profound impact on audiences everywhere. Father Jim Parker, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in DeKalb, Illinois, testifies to this:
“Since the show on Wednesday I have had an increase in confessions…There have been a number of moral miracles. These are greater than physical miracles.”
In his 1999 “Letter to Artists,” soon-to-be Saint John Paul II wrote:
“I appeal to you, artists of the written and spoken word, of the theatre and music…use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man…This is your task.”
That’s what Saint Luke Productions has been doing for 33 years: Carrying on the ambitions of a young Polish actor who left it all to become a priest and finally a pope.
I am so grateful for his inspiration and now I count on his prayers from heaven to fulfill our mission of evangelizing through theater and the media. It looks like my prayers are being answered, as the Saint Luke tour season fills and our shows play to packed audiences everywhere.
God Bless You,
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