Play on St. John Vianney comes to Janesville parish Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald staff   
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

JANESVILLE -- In honor of the Year for Priests, St. John Vianney Parish in Janesville will be the site of a one-man play entitled VIANNEY performed by Leonardo Defilippis, the director and star of the feature film Therese.

The play will take place on Friday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m., at St. John Vianney Parish, 1250 E. Racine St., Janesville.

Pope Benedict XVI declared the Year for Priests to be under the patronage of St. John Vianney. The play is the story of this saint, who battled the devil and saved a whole village and thousands of souls.


Fortunate to get play

Fr. Randy Timmerman, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish, said his parish was “very fortunate” to get this play. “It was by the grace of God,” he said. “We discovered the play when we were looking for an image of St. John Vianney.”

Father Timmerman said the parish called to see if the play could come to his parish. It turned out that there was one opening in a six-day Milwaukee tour. “We lucked out,” said the priest.

The play opened on August 4 — the feast of St. John Vianney — in Houston, Texas, with an audience of over 1,200 people.

Actor Defilippis has been performing since 1980, primarily as a Shakespearean actor. Some years ago he became intrigued by St. John Vianney, especially by his interaction with the devil.

Insights for people today

Father Timmerman, too, has been studying the writings and life of his parish’s patron saint, who he said has some great insights for people of today battling the presence of evil and temptation.

Defilippis’ one-man production opens amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, a time which mirrors the secularization, materialism, and anti-religious sentiment of our own day. Against this dramatic backdrop, a simple ignorant peasant priest enters the backwater town of Ars, a place where no one cares much about their faith or sees the Church as particularly relevant.

They don’t expect much out of John Vianney. But then the impossible begins to happen through this unlikely shepherd. Through his example, his love, and his sacrifice, the townspeople begin to change, begin to listen, and begin to pray.

The original musical score by composer Randall DeBruyn has been described as “gripping and beautiful,” the costumes and sets take the audience away into France of the 19th century, and Leonardo Defilippis’ portrayal promises “to bring all to tears, laughter, and a deep experience of the presence of God in our midst.”

The Web site for the play invites people to bring VIANNEY to their community “for a rare opportunity not to be missed and a perfect way to celebrate the Year for Priests. Who knows what God will do right in your own parish, if you open the door to St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests?”

How to get tickets

Tickets for the Janesville performance are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 17. For more information, call 608-752-8708. For more information on the play, visit

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