Here's just a peek into the blessed life we lead while on the road for the Theater of the Word Incorporated.
February saw us in the wilds of South Dakota, with very appreciative audiences for The Valentine Dialogues and The Call. The ever hospitable Doom family hosted us in Wagner, and Fr. Ranek, the best priest in Alexandria and Emery, hosted us there. Emery is the town where we once almost got in a bar fight - but that's another story, and another tour. We have since avoided the only bar in town and gotten our meals at the Emery Senior Center.
March saw us heading East, for a rousing performance of Socrates Meets Jesus in Buffalo, where we met an orthodox Jesuit priest, Father Martin Moleski - one of the six or seven orthodox Jesuits over the age of fifty in America. Fr. Moleski has become the model for our new internet television series, Father Dangerous, featuring a priest who drives fast, solves crimes, punches people, and has a sidekick - Deacon Witless - and a dispatcher - Sr. Bad Habit - who smokes and drinks.
Getting to Buffalo was a challenge. To begin with, I had the worst flu I've had in twelve years, we had a flat tire at midnight on the interstate near Mansfield, Ohio, the winds were at 60 mph on our way up, and we had to cancel our first performance because of a blizzard in the Berkshires.
But we made it, the weather broke, and the next night saw us in Rochester, where the local Chestertonians managed to get the word out well, drawing a large and very enthusiastic crowd for Socrates Meets Jesus. Great kindness was shown us by the Horvath family, the Griffens, our friend David Higbee at St. Irenaeus Ministries , and Fr. Mike Mayer, a fellow thespian who worked his way into our hearts by taking us out to eat.
Jeanne Horvath did her best to cure Gary and Maria, my fellow performers, who caught a touch of whatever it was I had. Here they are either participating in Jeanne's vapor treatment or meditating on the principles of Eastern mysticism.
A quick stop to perform Adam and Eve Goes to Marriage Counseling for our friends at St. Eugene's in Yonkers was fun. But by far the highlight of the tour was spending a week in the Diocese of Norwich with Fr. Greg Galvin, vocations director. Fr. Galvin showed us (just by being himself) what a Good Priest can accomplish. Take a normal guy who loves the priesthood and who is eager to bring souls to Jesus and the grace of God shines through him in ways you can't imagine.
(L-R: Maria, Gary, Dave, Me, and Father Greg Galvin at Luigi's, our new favorite restaurant, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.)
For example, although the Jesuits (the more common heterodox ones) would not allow Holy Hours or talks about Vocations on the campus of the University of Connecticut, where they ran the Catholic Center for 25 years, once they left the campus, Fr. Galvin took over, and now the weekly and very reverent Holy Hours he leads are attended (on Thursday nights no less) by forty to fifty students, who also stay for Mass and fellowship - at a secular public university! Indeed, Fr. Galvin tells me a surprising number of vocations to the priesthood seem to be brewing among the UConn students.
Fr. Galvin worked us hard, with seven shows scheduled in four days. But we loved every minute of it - since this is why God made us.
Another highlight was staying with the Lithuanian Sisters in Putnam, CT. These gals are great. One of them, Sr. Margaret, told us of how she smuggled Catholic literature and Bibles into Lithuania during the Soviet occupation, spied upon and followed by communist agents the whole time. Had she been caught in the act, she would have suffered the fate of many in Lithuania, including Adele Dirsyte, who was imprisoned in Siberia and tortured to the point of madness for daring to encourage others in their faith. Sr. Margaret's cohort, Sr. Mary Paul, told us of her escape from Lithuania under the Nazis and her escape years later from East Germany, barefoot, from the communists.
Compared with that, the flu and a flat tire are nothing. May we continue to evangelize through drama for the sake of and by the help of such wonderful people - and with your prayers and support.
(The cast of Socrates Meets Jesus at our performance in Old Saybrook, CT.)