Mystery Players Offer Seasonal Inspiration

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

From northern New York to Florida, teenagers are inspiring others through multimedia meditations about Jesus’ life and death.

The young Franciscans’ message is reaching many people this season. Parishioners in states as far apart as New York, Florida and Colorado are attending these presentations created by Francis Pompei, OFM.

All 10 groups across the country are “up and running with full Lenten schedules,” said Francis.  The presentations are: “Jesus the Healer,” “The Sorrowful Mysteries,” and “The Way of the Cross.” The three Lent-themed presentations are being offered in seven states.

Nearly 20 events taking place in southern New Jersey were publicized recently in the Catholic Star-Herald.

“The teens continue to inspire me and are very strong in their love for Jesus,” said Francis, who is stationed at St. Patrick Friary in Buffalo, N.Y. “When they pray together before the presentations, the room almost shakes with the Spirit like the early Christians.

“Over the past year or so, they have really become great young Franciscans,” he added. “More and more of them want to spread their faith and experience through media. I have several of them who have told their story of conversion and coming to know Christ and how he is their friend who affects their daily lives, the way they think, make decisions, and live.”

Francis said, “When I show the Mystery Players video at high school and Confirmation retreats, their stories of the Holy Spirit really touches their peers and more and more want to know how and when they can learn how to know Jesus as the players do. I am convinced that young people today, who we might think are far from the Lord and impossible to reach, are hungry to get to know Jesus and another way to live.”

He added: “The Mystery Players are really blowing people away with their non-hokey and down-to-earth solid faith. They are becoming more and more vulnerable with each other in the prayer circles, sharing not only their problems, but their weaknesses and failures.”

The Mystery Play ministry has far transcended its first intentions of 1976, according to the Franciscan Mystery Players website where information about all of the groups is provided. “What started off as a simple desire to help local parishioners experience the Passion of Jesus transformed into a very inspirational vehicle that the Lord has since used to bless thousands of people, young and old.”

Francis said there is a strong possibility” that he will arrange a gathering of the members of all the Mystery Player groups for later this year or “soon after the Christmas holidays.” Like the first event, held in 2009, it will most likely take place at a retreat center in New Jersey, he said.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.