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2015 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Leonardo Defilippis, Founder & President, Saint Luke Productions

“Renewing the Culture through Theater and the Media”
–Leonardo Defilippis

For 35 years, Leonardo Defilippis and Saint Luke Productions have brought professional theatrical live dramas to audiences of more than one million people throughout the English speaking world. In addition he has created a feature film, television programming, and DVD dramas on Christ and the Saints. His unique ministry and eventual production company began in 1980, when Leonardo was a Shakespearean actor with the dream of presenting the Gospel of Luke in a new dramatic form. His wish was to create a one-man production that would tour Northwest U.S. churches for a season.

“Do something
beautiful for God.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

(Advice given to Leonardo Defilippis in a personal letter)

On one occasion, he decided to write Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in the hope of obtaining guidance as he sought to dedicate his life and talents in the service of evangelization. Upon receiving a letter of reply from the humble founder of the Missionaries of Charity, the young actor was touched by her simply wisdom and encouraging sentiments. Her mandate to “Do something beautiful for God” offered a sense of direction, as he felt drawn to establish Saint Luke Productions. This would provide a means for renewing our modern society by means of the performing arts. His first show’s title, “The Gift of Peace”, was based upon Mother Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speec, in which she stated, “Let us thank God for this gift of peace, that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and that Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor.”

In his zeal to serve God, Defilippis set out, and subsequently performed “The Gift of Peace” in more than a hundred churches, where audiences were struck by the generous sacrifice of this talented young man, and most especially, by the powerful impact of his production. No expense was spared in the production, which included costumes, lighting, an original musical soundtrack, and this dedication to quality has continued.

As Divine Providence would have it, “The Passion According to St. Luke” first opened during Lent of 1981, in response to the tremendous response received by “The Gift of Peace”, and this popular spiritual drama continues to tour the country nearly every year during the spring. Audiences constantly remark on the profound impact a live production of the Gospel has on their lives.

“When you start performing the Word of God,
you feel this tremendous grace.
As an actor you begin to see that this is not another script.
If you believe the Word of God is God,
then Jesus becomes present in the actor for the people.
It is Jesus who does all, I do nothing.”
-Leonardo Defilippis (Thoughts on the “The Passion According to Luke”)


“The Passion According to St. Luke” -Leonardo Defilippis

From Shakespeare to St. Luke Productions

Leonardo and Patti Defilippis (pictured below, left) met as actors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1980. Now, some thirty-five years later the company they founded, Saint Luke Productions, has evolved into a professional non-profit company whose nine productions have toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In addition, their television productions on Maximilian Kolbe (Leonardo pictured below, right), Saint Francis, John of the Cross and the Gospel of Luke have been broadcast internationally. In the process, Leonardo and Patti have built an impressive repertoire of award winning live theatrical, motion picture and video productions that have been seen by millions throughout the world.


Patti and Leonardo Defilippis (above, left). Leonardo portrays Maximilian Kolbe (above, center), and John of the Cross (above, right).

“Leonardo and [his wife,] Patti are creating
a training ground for young artists
and restoring the dignity of the professional arts through
live drama, film and television.”
-Francis Cardinal George (late Archbishop of Chicago, IL)

“I first met Leonardo and Patti Defilippis while Archbishop of Portland, Oregon,” recalled the late Francis Cardinal George. “I was impressed with their vision and their understanding of the importance of a Catholic voice within the entertainment industry. Leonardo and Patti are creating a training ground for young artists and restoring the dignity of the professional arts through live drama, film and television.”

Thérèse (Luke Films)

In the year 2000, a new feature films division, Luke Films, was launched. Luke Films’ most notable accomplishment is the feature film, “Thérèse”, the story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, which generated tremendous grassroots and film industry support and played in mainstream movie theaters for an unprecedented 70 weeks. Thérèse was the first major motion picture distributed solely by an independent Catholic film company, and funded entirely by donations. In DVD release, the film continues to inspire numerous conversions and vocations.


Leonardo Defilippis portrays Louis Martin, father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, in
Luke Films’ motion picture “Thérèse.” The title role is played by actress, Lindsay Younce.

Thérèse is the mesmerizing story of a young girl’s romance with God. Her faith, trials, and sacrifices reveal a way of life based on love and simplicity. The film is based upon the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux; a Carmelite nun who died from tuberculosis (TB) at the young age of 24. Yet, through the publication of her spiritual journey, “The Story of a Soul”, she became widely admired throughout the world as “the greatest saint of modern times”.

The Gospel According to John>

The one-man play, The Gospel according to John:
“[Offers] a rare opportunity to slow down, listen, and
allow the Word of God to enter into our hearts.”
–Leonardo Defilippis

The most beautiful of all the Gospels, John's account is also the most mystical. In Leonardo Defilippis' dramatic interpretation of “The Gospel According to John”, the written Word becomes imagery - light and sound transform the inexplicable into flesh. Realism has often been used for Gospel interpretations, but somehow it is impossible to recognize the mystical reality of Christ through a simple reenactment of the events found in the Bible. Instead, this production has taken a more symbolic approach, based on the artistic theology of the Byzantine icon. An icon is not just a painting - it is understood by Christians to be a window into the reality of the supernatural. By contemplating an icon, "written," as they say, by an artist who has spent hours in prayer, one is drawn into a stillness and consciousness that is outside day to day existence.


“The Gospel According to John” –Leonardo Defilippis

The Gospel According to John is presented as a meditation on the mystery of the Trinity. Leonardo has not approached it in a literal way, but has tried to capture this mystery of the Word made Flesh in symbolic imagery, intended to draw us all into an experience of prayer. As Leonardo summarizes: “This is a rare opportunity to slow down, listen, and allow the Word of God to enter into our hearts!”

Vianney (The Gripping LIVE Drama)

Leonardo Defilippis' latest LIVE one-man stage production, Vianney, 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 Jean Marie 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.

This is a story of perseverance against all odds – the story of a humble pastor with a passion for souls. He'll do anything to save a sinner. "It is my prayer that when people meet Jean Vianney, they will, just like the people of Ars, be transformed by his life, story and message," says Leonardo Defilippis. "I know that young men looking for a radical way of serving God will be drawn to the priesthood through his example."

In one dramatic scene, Vianney battles the devil, who attacks him physically almost every night, causing furniture to fly around the room and leaving him battered and bruised from the combat. Why does the devil attack so violently? Because souls are being stolen away from him by the Curé of Ars! Never discouraged, Vianney, played by Defilippis, laughs at his adversary, for when he has had a particularly bad night he knows he'll catch "a big fish," or sinner, the next day.

Here is the hero we need in our day – a priest who, like Christ, pours himself out with complete unselfishness who never gives up on a single soul. The Vianney LIVE production will enthrall audiences with this struggle against all odds by a simple man who perseveres in spite of so much discouragement and adversity. The original musical score by composer Randall DeBruyn is gripping and beautiful, the costumes and set take the audience away into France of the 19th century. The play incorporates state-of-the-art technology projected onto a screen, offering a full cast of characters. Leonardo Defilippis' portrayal will bring all to tears, laughter and a deep experience of the presence of God in our midst.


Leonardo Defilippi as Jean Vianney

SPECIAL ONE NIGHT PERFORMANCE!

Leonardo Defilippis

Vianney

7:00 p.m., Friday, October 9th, 2015

Sacred Heart Banquet & Conference Center
29125 Six Mile Road, Livonia, MI 48152

General Seating Purchased at Door

$5 per person

(Youngsters 12 years and younger, Admitted FREE!)


Saint Luke Productions Announces Exciting All New LIVE Drama:
Father Augustus Tolton (First African American Priest)

“I’m convinced that this inspiring drama about
Father Augustus Tolton
will make a powerful impact.
Our country needs this story right now,
more than ever.”
Leonardo Defilippis

Leonardo Defilippis is about to produce an all new drama about the first African American priest, Father Augustus Tolton. You’ll be inspired and motivated by his courageous story.

Born a slave in Missouri in 1854, Augustus Tolton escaped with his mother and brother to Illinois as a boy. Rejected by every seminary in the United States, he went to Rome to study and be ordained. Once a priest, Fr. Tolton was sent back to his hometown of Quincy, and later to Chicago, where his preaching and presence so inspired both black and white Christians that they flocked to his parish. In the face of extreme prejudice and opposition, Fr. Tolton stands as an example of courage and humility. His cause for canonization was presented to the Vatican in 2014 and is moving forward.


Leonardo’s exciting new LIVE production: Father Augustus Tolton

Production Funds Still Needed

This year, St. Luke Productions began pre-production work for its new LIVE play about the life of Fr. Tolton (pictured above, center). At present, they are just shy of the funds needed to bring Fr. Tolton’s inspiring story to life. Any donation (large or small) will help them address the remaining productions costs. Can you help?

For further information, or to make a donation: www.toltondrama.com


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