“One of you will betray me.”

Jesus, played by Haven Provost, addresses his disciples during the Living Last Supper (photo by Cheryl Bevis)

With those words, parishioners at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Bourbonnais began their 32nd annual living Last Supper production on Palm Sunday.

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.

“This play is important to all of us in that it helps jumpstart Holy Week,” says Bevis, a 30-year parishioner. “It reminds us of our failings and exactly what Jesus did for us that night of the first communion.”

Director John Bevis, center, in green sash (photo by Cheryl Bevis)

This year’s performance drew one of the largest audiences in recent memory. Visually, the play recreates the portrait of the Last Supper as created by Leonardo Da Vinci, but it is the haunting testimonials of each disciple that make the biggest impact, parishioner say.

The performance begins with the narrator introducing the setting, before each disciple comes forward from the darkness and reflects on his thoughts after hearing Jesus’ words, “One of you will betray me.”

John Bevis, as St. John the Beloved, listens as Judas, in red, portrayed by Jim Bilgri peers over his soldier (photo by Cheryl Bevis)

One at a time, each disciple takes his seat at the table during the building of De Vinci’s famous painting, while the audience pondered each disciple’s story, and their final question: “Is it I, is it I?”

“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,” Bevis says. “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,” Bevis adds, “to help grow closer in our relationship to Christ and our characters.”