Vianney’s message of hope hits the road

  • April 20, 2011
Leonardo Defilippis, star of Vianney. (Photo courtesy of St. Luke Productions) TORONTO - A one-man play showcasing St. John Vianney’s message of hope is coming to the archdiocese of Toronto in early May.

Vianney, starring Leonardo Defilippis, will be performed at five parishes throughout the archdiocese, beginning May 2 at Brampton’s St. Marguerite d’Youville Church and wrapping up at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Pickering on May 6. In between, it will be performed at Woodbridge’s St. Clare of Assisi (May 3), St. John Vianney in Barrie (May 4) and Toronto’s St. Andrew Kim Church on May 5.

The play brings a message of hope during a time of great challenge for the Catholic Church, said Defilippis, who is also founder and president of St. Luke Productions.

“It highlights the Church in a very special way. It brings out the importance of the priesthood and role of the priest for the people and what is the role of the people for the priest,” he told The Catholic Register.

Vianney opens amid the chaos of the French Revolution, a time not unlike today of rampant secularization and anti-religious sentiment. Defillipis said the play comes at a crucial time for the Catholic Church, which has been  reeling from the recent sex abuse scandals.

“It’s a crucial time in society where there are a lot of misunderstandings and a lack of hope for the world,” he said.

Born in 1786, St. John Vianney was a beloved parish priest renowned for converting many souls in the town of Ars, France. He endured daily torment from the devil who sought to break St. John Vianney’s will and resolve to do God’s work. Vianney shows how this simple priest helps change the townspeople, bringing faith back to a town where few cared about faith.

St. John Vianney was considered an “underdog” because he experienced difficulties in his seminary studies, Defilippis said, but he persevered and was able to serve God in the best way he could.

A number of bishops, priests and seminarians have come to see the one-man play, said Defilippis. Some have said it has become a kind of  “re-examination of conscience, of their priesthood and an awakening of their first love.”

“It reawakens one’s relationship with others and with God,” he said.

Defilippis hopes the play will spark new vocations. He sees signs of hope with the many youth who have come up to him after the show with queries about the priesthood and religious life.

Tickets for the performance are $10 and can be ordered through the parishes where it will play. For more information, see or

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