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Annual homeschool conference set for March 31 at Rigali Cntr.

The annual conference of the St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Association will be Saturday, March 31, at the Cardinal Rigali Center, 20 Archbishop May Drive in Shrewsbury.

Theater review — ‘Doubt’

Doubt, a play by John Patrick Shanley, peformed at the Fox Theatre through Feb. 25.

Reviewed by Doug Brown

It’s 1964 in New York City’s Bronx burough.Turbulence and sinister uncertainties are traumatic characteristics of the age as evidenced in part by public reaction to President John F. Kennedy’s still-recent assassination.

Now, too, a bullet named doubt speeds toward a time honored icon of faith, a priest at a Catholic elementary school.

A rigid, old-school, middle-aged principal, Sister Aloysius (Darrie Lawrence standing in for Cherry Jones) uses unfounded suspicions, circumstantial evidence, hasty conclusions, secrecy and untruths to build a seedy case ofrepetitive pedophilic transgression against the priest, Father Flynn (Chris McGarry).

She misuses her authority to enlist the assistance of reluctant young subordinate, Sister James (Lisa Joyce), in plotting to unmask the charming priest using a student "victim" from Sister James’ eighth-grade class.Also convinced that the Church’s male dominated hierarchy would thwart her crusade with an automatic coverup, she conducted her own investigation including an interrogation of the supposed victim’s mother, Mrs Muller (Caroline Stefanie Clay).

Father Flynn is incensed by Sister Aloysius’ insinuations, disregard for tactical protocol and attempted character defamation.Further, he threatens to have her removed from her position at the school.

Sister James is convinced he is innocent and abandons the campaign.Sister Aloysius believes his reactions to be telltale guilt, and his explanations and pleas to be deceitful and manipulative.

The finale comes as a fast-forward scene with Sisters Aloysius and James, wherein we learn that Father Flynn has left, having been promoted to pastor at another parish, which causes new doubts for Sister Aloysius.

The four actors played their roles with energy and style and kept the play moving swiftly.They managed the comic relief perfectly, but it was soon buried by the inherent darkness of this production.

True to its name "Doubt" never solves the dilemma, just ends it. Forcing the audience to draw its own conclusions is a method of keeping this particular issue in the limelight of controversy.

An intentional reminder? Perhaps. Playwright John Patrick Shanley claims in his preface that he was intrigued by the moment of doubt and that group doubt has a bonding force.A solicitation? Maybe.

Regardless, the result is still detrimental to the image of the Catholic Church, an institution founded on and existing on love, truth and faith, quite the opposite of the theme presented in the play.

Equally pernicious intent is suggested by the mere use of Catholicism for the venue of an exercise in doubt.Contrary to Shanley’s philosophy, doubt has a divisionary effect.Throughout literary history, tales recount man’s use of doubt as the tool to cause discord and eventual dissolution in the ranks of adversaries.

One wonders if that was a goal of this play.

Brown, a member of Ascension Parish in Chesterfield, reviews local theatrical performances.

Program on remarriage in the Church set March 2-3

A program of marriage preparation for engaged couples where one or both individuals have been married before will be offered by the archdiocese next month.

CBC High names its first lay president

Michael F. England will become the first lay president of Christian Brothers College High School, effective July 1.

Mercy Center offers Lenten programs

Mercy Center, a conference and retreat center sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, is offering several Lenten programs in the coming weeks.

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