Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Bourbonnais is delighted to bring back its production of the Living Last Supper at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday. The sacred portrayal dates back more than 35 years in the parish and with the pandemic, this will be the first time in five years that it will take place.

Photo by Cheryl Bevis

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, who has performed in the production since 1996 and now is directing it for the seventh time.. “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)

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, parishioners say.

Seven of this year’s disciples are new. Actors range from their mid-20s to 70, and they have been rehearsing for the last five weeks.

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?”

“It’s special that it takes place on Palm Sunday,” says Fr. Jason Nesbit, CSV, pastor. “It helps us focus on the mysteries of the Pascal Triduum and get ourselves ready to enter into Holy Week.”