Saint Luke Productions to Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Bringing Sanctity to the Performing Arts
For three decades, Saint Luke Productions has led a renewal of Catholic culture through theater and the media by bringing professional theatrical and feature film dramas on the life of Christ and His saints to audiences of over one million people throughout the English-speaking world. The apostolate began in 1980, when founder and Shakespearean actor Leonardo Defilippis considered presenting the Gospel of Luke in a new form, as a one-man production that would tour churches in the Northwest United States for one season. He proceeded after being encouraged by Mother Teresa of Calcutta to “Do something beautiful for God.”
No expense was spared in the production. Audiences in more than one hundred churches were captivated by the powerful impact of Defilippis’ performances, and the life-changing effect and dedication to quality continues to this day. Saint Luke Productions has evolved into a professional non-profit company whose ten live productions have toured the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Productions are based on historical, scriptural, and modern-day stories that inspire audiences to a deeper desire for the Truth of Jesus Christ. Its films and live dramas have won numerous national and international awards, and have been aired for decades on cable and network stations. Saint Luke Productions also educates and encourages artists and young people by providing internships, workshops, and employment in their office and production company.
While Saint Luke Productions’ vision is Catholic, testimonials have revealed that people of all faiths have been touched, changed, and strengthened by the love of God manifesting itself through their work. Leonardo and his wife Patti, a screenwriter, director, and speaker, established the production company within the context of family. As parents of seven children, they understand that a renewal of the culture depends upon a renewal of family life.
Saint Luke Productions will formally celebrate its thirtieth anniversary October 18, 2011 (also the Feast of St. Luke), and plans to commemorate its extraordinary milestone throughout the next year. Leonardo Defilippis is grateful and humbled to have spent his life bringing sanctity to the performing arts.
"I could never have imagined," says Defilippis, "that this vision of creating dramas and films on the greatest lives of the human race, who have changed the course of history, would continue and flourish in a world where religious art is not appreciated, or in many cases, simply ignored. “
Leonardo and Patti Defilippis continue their mission of renewing Catholic culture for people longing for spiritual works of art that provide a personal encounter with Christ and His saints.
“When I think back on how we started and where we are today, I clearly see that God blesses those who step out in trust and take risks for His sake. This is the miracle of faith and creation itself," Leonardo Defilippis concluded.
Live Theatrical Performances: VIANNEY
While feature films have tremendous value because they reach a much broader audience, Defilippis is partial to the more personal nature of live theatrical dramas. The current Saint Luke Productions project, VIANNEY (vianneydrama.com), is in its third year on a nationwide tour. Based on the life of St. John Vianney of France (1786 - 1859), who has been recognized by Pope Benedict XVI as a model for all priests and laity, the production is one of the most popular one-person shows in America. Defilippis is passionate about sharing the valuable story of an ideal hero for our era, “A priest who, like Christ, pours himself out with complete unselfishness and who never gives up on a single soul.”
VIANNEY will continue on tour in the United States, Canada, and internationally through 2012.
“The play brings a message of hope during a time of great challenge for the Catholic Church, by emphasizing the importance of the priesthood, and the roles of the priest for the people and the people for the priest,” stressed Defilippis. “It’s a crucial time in society where there are a lot of misunderstandings and a lack of hope for the world,” he said.
Priests and seminarians have reported the experience led to a re-examination of conscience and of their priesthood, and to an awakening of their first love. Defilippis hopes the play also sparks new vocations. He sees signs of hope in the many youth who have approached him following performances with queries about the priesthood and religious life.
“Christianity cannot exist without the priesthood. Not to embrace the priesthood is not to embrace Christ. In the end when you die, you will meet the priest, Jesus Christ,” said Defilippis.
"Leonardo DeFilippis' portrayal of St. Vianney in the St. Luke Production, VIANNEY, inspired me to learn more about the saint's love for Jesus. In turn, my love for our Lord grew as I began to recite the St. John Vianney prayer and now I ask daily for the saint's prayerful intercession as I continue my discernment to the priesthood," said Gregory Piatt, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.
Tickets for the performance can be ordered through the locations where it will play. For more information, see www.vianneydrama.com or www.stlukeproductions.com.
Saint Luke Productions launched a feature films division, Luke Films, in 2000. Its most notable accomplishment is the feature film THÉRÈSE, the story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, which was shown in mainstream movie theaters for an unprecedented 70 weeks. THÉRÈSE was the first major motion picture distributed solely by an independent Catholic film company, and was funded entirely by donations. Now available on DVD, the film continues to inspire numerous conversions and vocations.
Other DVD productions include Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz, Saint Francis: Troubadour of God’s Peace, John of the Cross, The Gift of Peace – First Six Chapters of St. Luke’s Gospel, The Passion According to Luke, Song of Songs, and Vianney Speaks.
The beautiful new daily series BENEDICTUS MOMENTS, produced specifically for radio and the web, seeks to strengthen the understanding and insight of the Word of God and the rich legacy of sacred tradition through the teachings of the Holy Father, and to share his messages with an even wider audience.
The thought-provoking meditations come from Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI (published by Magnificat and Ignatius Press) and are presented by Leonardo Defilippis. For more information about distribution, contact Saint Luke Productions (360-687-8029). Daily meditations can be accessed at http://www.stlukeproductions.com/benedictus.
Saint Luke Productions also hosts one-day acting workshops that build awareness of the powerful spiritual impact of live theater. The importance of the dramatic arts in the Church is also examined. Individualized instruction in voice, movement, and character development is also provided. Acting workshops are open to those 12 and older.
Leonardo Defilippis also presents Acting Like a Saint: Catholic Identity on Stage and Screen. In this entertaining multimedia production, Defilippis tells the story of Saint Luke Productions and includes inspiring and humorous stories from tour life and selections from his many performances through almost four decades as an actor. It runs between 45 minutes to an hour, and makes an ideal keynote address for events. In addition, Leonardo and Patti Defilippis are available to speak to groups on a variety of topics (http://www.stlukeproductions.com/contact-us).
Vianney Speaks Coming to EWTN
Vianney Speaks, a television program that depicts the inspiring sermons and prayers of St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney, was developed as a companion to the live dramatic production VIANNEY. The show promises to deepen viewers’ understanding of the Catholic Faith. By illustrating his human frailty, humility, and fervor, one will appreciate John Vianney’s great love for the souls entrusted to his care, and understand more fully how he converted an entire town and countless pilgrims through his personal holiness.
Vianney Speaks will premiere on ETWN’s Global Catholic Network October 14-15, 2011 and the program is now available on DVD at www.vianneyspeaks.com.
30th Anniversary Celebration
Saint Luke Productions will celebrate three decades of serving the Church through theater and the media with a festive evening of thanksgiving on the Feast of St. Luke October 18, 2011 in Vancouver, Washington. The event is open to all http://www.stlukeproductions.com/30Years. To share your memories in honor of the occasion, please visit: 30Years@stlukeproductions.com
The work of Saint Luke Productions continues to bear much fruit within the New Evangelization and to resonate Jesus' call for all of us to be the very salt and light to the entire world. For information about Saint Luke Productions and their products, including a list of their current, live performance locations for VIANNEY, or to bring VIANNEY to your area, visit stlukeproductions.com or call 1-800-683-2998.
God is at work in Saint Luke Productions!
Saint Luke Productions
P.O. Box 886
Battle Ground, WA 98604-0886
Toll Free: 1-800-683-2998
Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:00pm PST
About the authors
Michele Bondi Bottesi is an award-winning writer, psychologist, pro-life advocate at True Love Leads To Life, and publisher at Joseph Karl Publishing (www.josephkarlpublishing.com).
Nancy Carabio Belanger is an award-winning writer whose books, Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia’s Gift, are used in Catholic-school curricula and have been praised for their fun yet wholesome approach to the trials and tribulations of Catholic pre-teen life. Her website is www.harveyhousepublishing.com.
Paul A. Ray is a writer, public speaker, and creative director at Joseph Karl Publishing. Visit his blog, Tongues as of Fire! at http://www.tonguesasoffire.blogspot.com.
Images Copyright Saint Luke Productions. Used with permission.