Play at Monroeville church will depict saint's life

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Even as a child, Nancy Scimone knew that performing on stage would be a lifelong passion.

The vocal artist said that her first performance—singing a solo at a school assembly at age 6—gave her so much joy, not just from sharing her talent, but from connecting with a live audience.

Now “over 35,” Ms. Scimone, who lives in Springfield, Va., said her love of performing has grown to encompass another passion—her Catholic faith. She travels the U.S. and Canada showcasing her original one-woman drama, “Saint Faustina—Messenger of Mercy,” for faith-based organizations and churches.

The hour-long performance highlights the life of Sister Mary Faustina, a Polish nun and mystic who died in 1938 and was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on April 30, 2000.

“The show is really a balance between the struggles we all go through and Saint Faustina’s extraordinary life. It teaches so much about love for God, trusting God, and allowing grace to come into our lives,” Ms. Scimone explained.

Sister Faustina is venerated as the Apostle of Divine Mercy. Born in 1905 and baptized as Helena Kowalska, she took the name of Sister Mary Faustina when she entered a convent. She died of tuberculosis at age 33.

A free performance of “Saint Faustina—Messenger of Mercy,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 26 at North American Martyrs Catholic Church, 2526 Haymaker Road, Monroeville. Open to all ages, the event is sponsored by that parish, which also includes St. Michael Church in Pitcairn.

“I believe in using the arts to evangelize,” said the Rev. Joseph G. Luisi, parish priest. “We must use everything at our disposal—music, art, drama—to reach people who may not come to Mass, but may come to us through this vehicle. Everyone loves a good story and this should be thought-provoking.”

Throughout her life, Sister Faustina reported having visitations with Jesus and others, Ms. Scimone said.

An archived homily about Sister Faustina on the Vatican website (www.vatican.va), dated April 30, 2000, reads: “The years she had spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory … was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses.”

Sister Faustina wrote about these experiences in a diary, later published as Divine Mercy in My Soul and translated from Polish into several languages. Ms. Scimone said her script uses only content from that diary.

Sister Faustina’s key message was, “No matter what we’ve done, God will forgive us if we ask for His mercy,” she said.

The drama contains seven scenes representing significant facets of the saint’s life. After each scene, Ms. Scimone sings a traditional or new sacred song to allow time for reflection and to advance the story.

Ms. Scimone is a classically trained vocalist who makes her living performing and teaching. Her music can be heard on Catholic radio affiliates of Eternal Word Television Network.

As Sister Faustina, Ms. Scimone is costumed as a nun, but the stage is absent of scenery or props to keep the audience focused on the script, she said.

She has performed the drama more than 75 times. 

Ms. Scimone’s interest in Sister Faustina began in 2002 when she picked up a pamphlet about the nun from a rack in a church, needing something to read on a train trip. “I found it fascinating that a nun would have written a diary,” she said.

She later bought and read the “chunky” diary, and after reading it aloud, thought it might make a good performance piece for those who didn’t want to read the lengthy book.

“I prayed and said ‘God, if you want this, please help me to know this is your will and not my ego.’ The next day, my mother called from Maryland and said, ‘Nancy, there’s a man coming to our church who’s going to talk about that Polish Sister that you like.’ … I felt this was my answer from God. The next day, He put me in touch with this expert on this saint,” she said.

In 2004, she began performances.

“Sometimes people say to me afterwards, ‘I didn’t see you on stage. I saw Sister Faustina.’ It’s then that I know I did my job well,” she said.

Details: 412-373-0330.


Kathy Samudovsky, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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