John DiDomenico, right, a parishioner of Nativity Parish for more than 30 years, portrays the apostle Andrew as he has his feet washed by fellow parishioner Patrick Sullivan, portraying Jesus during a 2017 production of the Living Last Supper. This year’s performance is being dedicated to DiDomenico, who died weeks after last year’s play.  Hal Brown photo
 

John DiDomenico, right, a parishioner of Nativity Parish for more than 30 years, portrays the apostle Andrew as he has his feet washed by fellow parishioner Patrick Sullivan, portraying Jesus during a 2017 production of the Living Last Supper. This year’s performance is being dedicated to DiDomenico, who died weeks after last year’s play.  Hal Brown photo

 

By Thomas Wiedmann | Correspondent

As the cast of the Living Last Supper prepare for their annual production at Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, this year’s performance will hold special significance as they carry the show onward without their friend and longtime cast member, John DiDomenico.

DiDomenico, who portrayed the apostle Andrew in the play for six years, passed away last April after a long battle with cancer.

Photo Gallery:  2017 Living Last Supper Performance

With this year’s performance offering reverence to the Lenten season and remembrance of DiDomenico, his family and friends are taking this time to honor his dedication to the show and his faith. Parishioner Patrick Sullivan, who has portrayed Jesus in the production for the past seven years, believes DiDomenico will continue to be on stage with everyone in spirit.

“It has been emotional practicing this year without John. However, we decided to dedicate our 2018 show to him, which has enthusiastically helped me to perform this year, knowing that he is with us as Andrew the Bringer,” Sullivan said. “We are blessed to have found a good friend of John and Annie [DiDomenico’s wife] to play Andrew this year. I’m sure John would say, ‘The show must go on.’”

Though DiDomenico was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in November 2014, it didn’t evade him from participating in the annual production. Annie DiDomenico witnessed her husband’s dedication to the show as he carried on into the final years of his life with health challenges.

 “The last three presentations for John were very special, but also very trying as he was struggling to just maintain,” she said. “The first year, he actually performed wearing a chemo pump and was very sick. The following year, he had the doctor work his chemo schedule around Living Last Super presentations. His final presentation was chemo-free because it stopped working. The cancer had spread to his brain.”

 “Those final LLS performances were the last time John was coherent enough to remember and be able to speak his lines because he was undergoing whole brain radiation,” she continued. “He said that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke the lines because he could hardly remember his name. He passed away two weeks later.”

Joseph Dilustro, who portrayed Apostle Simon Peter, said DiDomenico’s circumstances transcended his role as Andrew on stage.

 “John’s legacy as the Apostle Andrew can be defined that despite his hardship with cancer, he found a way spiritually to use his deep-rooted faith to go on,” Dilustro said. “The focal point for many of us is to have unconditional faith in Jesus Christ just the way John lived his life.”

As DiDomenico’s final weeks were spent rehearsing and performing during the Lenten season, Dilustro, whose has served in the production for six years, reflected on how this time of year serves a reminder of DiDomenico’s fight.

“John’s suffering has a significance during the Lenten season, which asks us to offer up a personal sacrifice to Jesus – which John did by accepting his Cross in life,” Dilustro said. “John’s life journey should be a testament to everyone.”

DiDomenico’s commitment toward the show was not lost on Sullivan either, who admired his persistence.

“These were the same five weeks that we practiced for the Living Last Super. He never complained, made it to all five practices and did not miss a beat right up to the three nights of performances,” Sullivan said. “We all have been thinking of John at every practice and remembering how brave he was last year to fulfill his determined mission – and he did so with a shining light above him.”

As DiDomenico’s presence on stage will be missed going forward with future performances, Dilustro believes that he will always remain a guiding force for the production.  

“Although as a cast we are sad to perform this year without John, his heavenly spirit is shining on us as a beacon of love,” Dilustro said. “John will be our inspiration for many years to come.”