Jeanne Jugan’s spirit was with us at the Carmel Palladium which was completely sold out well in advance of the presentation. Two-hundred cast members, including three choirs, brilliant narrators Julie Mauro and Lee Wenninger, a brass ensemble, guitarist, organist and pianist, a clarinetist and a timpanist moved members of the audience to tears as they unfolded the story of St. Jeanne Jugan. All of these people, and more, offered their time, talent, and treasure to honor God and St. Jeanne Jugan in this way. Residents, family and friends, our Little Sisters and Little Sisters from Cleveland attended. St. Augustine’s was blessed with the presence of Dr. Edward and Jeanne Gatz, who addressed the rapt audience, sharing the incredible story of the “coincidences” supporting them throughout their journey with terminal esophageal cancer in 1989 and to this day. Dr. Gatz’s cure, through the intercession of Jeanne Jugan, is the defining miracle following which Jeanne Jugan was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.
Marty and Lorita Doucette had originally written the moving presentation two years ago for the first anniversary of the canonization of St. Jeanne Jugan. It was presented then, and again the following year, at St. Augustine’s chapel for residents and friends. On seeing it, Mother Mary Vincent, Superior and Administrator of St. Augustine Home, knew immediately that the story should be shared with a wider audience so that the incredible life of St. Jeanne Jugan, and her remarkable charism of caring for the aged poor, would become more broadly known. “What’s the biggest theater or hall in the area?” Mother asked. Someone offered “the Carmel Palladium” and the rest, as they say, is history. When Mother and others from the home, such as Tracy Desserich, Director of Development, and Marty and Lorita Doucette visited the Palladium, its grandeur seemed an odd yet fitting place to celebrate the life of the saint.
Marty and Lorita expanded the presentation for the larger Palladium. Two choral groups from Guerin Catholic High School (Noblesville), the all-woman Cecilia chorale and co-ed Golden Voice, joined the Gloria Dei choir of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Carmel), under directors Mark Duray (Guerin) and Rex Benjamin Rund (OLMC and the combined choirs). Jeanne’s life and work blossomed for the audience through hymns, songs, rich music, hundreds of projected images, dance, and poignant tableau. Shannon Wenninger directed the program, cuing every movement to perfection.
The narrative program closed with the singing of St. Augustine volunteer Jeannine Hong’s song, “If These Walls Could Speak” accompanied by numerous photographs of Residents, family members, Sisters, employees and volunteers projected on two huge screens. Tears of joy were liberally shared among audience and cast members. Msgr. John Duncan closed the evening with a heart-felt prayer.
Then, the audience raised the roof in singing “For All the Saints” as the novices, young women from Guerin Catholic High School, carried large collecting baskets to the doorways. Among the last words the audience heard were these, a new stanza in “For All the Saints” by Musical Director Rex Rund:
St. Jeanne Jugan, great lover of the poor,
God’s outstretched hand to the shipwrecked on life’s shore;
Little, wise virgin’s lighted pathway to Christ’s door:
Click here to view a photo slideshow from this event.
To view the “PrayBill” (Program from the play) click here.