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St. Joseph’s Parish evangelizes through theatre

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Neighbours and regulars fill pews for original Good Friday play
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
LANGLEY

Photo: St. Joseph's parishioners put on Pierced, a play about the Passion, on Good Friday. The event was created as an opportunity to invite non-religious neighbours to church. (Credit: Arthur Goeldner)

The Good Friday observance at St. Joseph’s Church this year was one the community will not soon forget.

Hundreds of people, including many neighbourhood residents who no longer go to church or have never stepped inside of one, filled the pews at the Langley church for a powerful play about Jesus’ crucifixion.

“It was unbelievable! It pulled the community together,” said parishioner Louise Van Noort.

The play, Pierced, was written by St. Joseph’s parishioner Veronica Hargrave and directed, acted, and produced by the parish’s youth and young adults. Van Noort said the play the community came out to see was no amateur production.

“I thought it was amazing because it shared the story of the Passion through the eyes of a centurion, which is a completely different take on it,” she said. The centurion who pierced Jesus’ side with a spear comes to understand that Jesus was God through the eyes of a little servant girl.

This was the first time St. Joseph’s has produced a Good Friday play. It was also the debut of a new initiative to invite nonreligious friends and neighbours to church.

“For some people, all they need is an invitation,” said young adult ministry coordinator Kathleen LeBlanc.

Before the production, she gave youth and young adults of the parish a small workshop about evangelism and creating opportunities to talk about faith. Going to church “doesn’t have to be intimidating,” she said. They were encouraged to invite a few people each to see Pierced.

It was a success. LeBlanc estimated 500 people came out for the play, many of whom she’d never seen at the church before.

After the play, there was an “invitation to people to realize that this isn’t just a play. This isn’t a story. This is a real man who impacted people for generations and today he’s inviting you to invite him into his life.”

After the play, people were invited to stay and pray awhile, return for Mass at Easter, or sign up for a parish faith study. There was also a long line for confession, LeBlanc said.

“I invited a lot of people. Some came and some said absolutely not,” said Van Noort, who talked about the play in all of her social circles. She even made an announcement at her Catholic Women’s League meeting, urging her fellow members to invite children who had stopped going to church.

On the day of the play, the church “was buzzing. People were talking and talking. Some lives were touched and changed. I did not hear a single negative thing about it.”

Amy Goeldner’s two teenage children performed in the play. “I handed out the Pierced cards to everyone I knew,” she said. “It was a great play. It was unexpected.”

Before the performance, the church hosted a Good Friday service that was especially meaningful for Goeldner.

“It’s my favourite part of the entire liturgical year,” she said. “We prayed for everyone: believers, non-believers, people who have fallen away from the Church. To have the Good Friday play right after was so meaningful.”

 

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