By Lois Rogers | Features Editor
For more than a decade, troupes of young people across the United States have been treading the boards of parishes, schools and theaters, keeping the ancient spark of mystery plays alive.
The inspired performances of these groups of Franciscan Mystery Players have captured the imagination and emotions of audiences given the rare opportunity to experience something much more than a play: a powerful mediation and prayer.
Critics who have reviewed the performances, often liken them to time travel, giving viewers the capacity to travel back 2000 years and be present during the living ministry of Jesus.
On Friday, March 16, area Catholics will have the chance to take that trip themselves when St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Red Bank, hosts the Franciscan Mystery Players of Notre Dame Church, North Caldwell, in their production of “Jesus the Healer.” A freewill offering will be taken.
The performance, which will begin at 8 p.m. in the church at 121 Bridge Avenue, employs special lighting, inspirational music and sound, drama and soul-searching reflections which capture the Lord’s Spirit to forgive, heal, renew and give peace.
Now in their 12th season, the Franciscan Mystery Players of Notre Dame Church consist of 15 teenagers, two younger girls and six adults who perform the play during Lent in parishes throughout New Jersey as well as Philadelphia, New York State, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida.
The company, which will mark its 100th performance on Palm Sunday, April 1, is one of many Franciscan Mystery companies throughout the country striving to keep the mystery play tradition current. The Caldwell players represent several ministries of service sponsored by Notre Dame Parish.
The young members endeavor to develop a deeper sense of prayer while reaching out beyond their parish community. According to their publicity, in “sharing “Jesus the Healer” with others, the Mystery Players commit themselves to offering strength and peace to all those who are suffering.”
A core component of each presentation is inviting audience members to join the players in either shared or individual prayers for healing at the foot of the cross when the play is ended.
For more information call Michelle McCue at 732-747-0813.[[In-content Ad]]