“One of you will betray me.”

John Bevis, right, played the role of John, and directed the presentation (Photos by Cheryl Bevis)

With those words, parishioners at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Bourbonnais began their Living Last Supper production on Palm Sunday, bringing back the production after a five year break, due to the pandemic.

Visually, the portrayals dramatized the famous painting, “The Last Supper,” by Leonardo Da Vinci, but its script stayed close to the scripture readings.

David Osborn played the role of Jesus

One at a time, each disciple comes out of the darkness to take his seat at the table, slowly building Da Vinci’s famous image, while the audience pondered different disciples’ stories, and their final question: “Is it I, is it I?”

Viatorian Associate John Ohlendorf helped to bring the idea to the parish back in 1987, directing it for the first 20 years. Parishioner John Bevis now directs the re-enactment, which occurs every other year.

“Each of us speaks to our relationship with the Master and how we all doubt ourselves in our humanness, even after Jesus has promised us salvation through his death,” says Bevis, who has directed the last seven productions, since 2008. “Finally, even though we promised to stand with him, we all abandon him just when he needed us most. I think that is why so many of us continue to play our parts, to help grow closer in our relationship to Christ and our characters.”

Frank Koehler describes the role of Philip with the disciples.

In fact, parishioner Len Smith, who plays the Apostle Nathaniel, has appeared in every production since it began 35 years ago, while Bevin has been involved for 27 years. However, this year’s portrayal drew seven new cast members who slipped right into their roles.

“It was a hit,” says Cheryl Bevis, who helped out backstage and captured the evening in her photos. “We estimate there were about 200 people there, some coming an hour early to get the front row.”

Tom Bailey, Sherry Denault and Pre-Associate Terry Granger

It’s not just the actors who immerse themselves in the portrayal. Loyal parishioners work behind the scenes as well, including Tom Bailey who operated the spotlight, and Sherry Denault, Liturgial Ministries Coordinator, who doubled as sound technician. Pre-Associate Terry Granger, a longtime parishioner and president of Bishop McNamara Catholic School, served as narrator.