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Gripping Theatre Productions Bring the Faith to Life


Immaculate Heart of Mary
New Melle, MO
Archdiocese of St. Louis
United States

More Info

For more information, email Shawn Mueller.

Theater of the Word, Inc. presents a creative method for preaching the gospel and building the Church.

"It was a resounding success and great to see such a turnout, what a fitting way to mark the Jubilee Year!"

Fr. Richard Stolz, Pastor, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, New Melle, MO

The need it meets

Parishioners refresh and deepen their knowledge of and appreciation for familiar Scripture passages and Catholic values. The program breaks the routine for practicing Catholics, and affords a venue for active Catholics to invite less active friends and family members.

Where it came from

Theater of the Word uses drama to bring the Scriptures to life. Founder Kevin O’Brien and his associates believe it is their calling to evangelize through entertaining and edifying drama. They have partnered with Ignatius Press and Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ.

"Drama and comedy have the power to move hearts and minds, and everything I’ve ever done on stage has been a means of bringing joy and enlightenment to people. We plan to produce not merely shows that are overtly Christian,” notes O’Brien, “but well written plays that see the world from a Christian perspective. There is a vast intellectual and artistic tradition in the Church which is either unknown or denigrated today, and we hope to be active in its revival.”

Fr. Joseph Fessio: " Sarah's Secret is the most moving and effective pro-life piece I've ever seen. The Morning Star Players [a troupe connected to Theatre of the Word, Inc.] are tremendous."

How it works

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in New Melle, MO, hosted the show "The Journey of St. Paul" to kick off the Jubilee Year of St. Paul.

  • They had a Mass at 6pm, followed by dinner in the parish hall, then the stage presentation.
  • The hall was beautifully decorated and the evening was like a dinner theater.
  • This event was open to all ages and the cost was $15 per person.
  • IHM advertised this inside their parish for a few weeks but then began advertising locally outside their parish because they received a number of outside inquiries about it.

The results

Results reported from IHM:

  • About 150 people joined together for this faith-centered event.
  • Fr. Stolz's congregation was inspired with the message of Paul. The amount of Scripture quoted made a significant impression on the viewers.
  • It complemented the pastor's own mission to "incarnate" the Gospel in the lives of people.

Verbal Feedback:

"What a beautiful way to spend an evening!"
"I am amazed that he can remember and quote so much Scripture."
"I'm inspired to go home and begin reading all of Paul's letters."

"Live drama is a great way to spread the faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God. The drama does both." Shawn Mueller, Director of Religious Education, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, New Melle, MO

Key elements

  • Bulletin announcements for a month or two preceding the event
  • The pastor encouraging sign-ups from the pulpit.
  • A committee formed to pray and put together ideas.
  • Various members of the committee helping in all areas, from welcoming to cleanup.
  • The pastor's encouragement, network contacts from parish email lists, Bible Study groups and word of mouth friendships help maximize publicity efforts.

How to implement it

The Theater of the Word price structure is as follows:

  • $750 plus expenses per performance for any of their touring shows (they offer more than 12 different dramas - for more information see their website at
  • Expenses include travel and accommodations, unless booked as part of an existing tour. ToW can offer quotes on travel costs via telephone.
  • A parish can save on expenses if they can team up with other parishes or schools for multiple performances in a local area. In this case ToW will split travel costs between all venues.

Required for Set Up in any venue:
- Lighting and sound system, or at least an amplifier and speakers to plug into.
- A changing space or "green room" for the actors near the performance area.

Fr. Richard L. Stolz is pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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