For The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — A one-woman play about influential speaker Sister Joan Chittister will take place at The Canticle, the home of the Sisters of St. Francis, 841 13th Ave. N., on May 22 at 7 p.m. Playwright, actress, and singer Teri Bays will perform “Joan Chittister: Her Story, My Story, Our Story.”
Sr. Chittister is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Penn., an internationally renowned speaker and spiritual leader, and an award-winning author of over 50 books on the topics of peace and justice, women’s role in society, interfaith work, spirituality and faith. She is the executive director of Benetvision and the co-founder of the Women’s Global Peace.
In the 80-minute play, Bays blends the life and words of Sr. Chittister with the challenges and relationships of all women, including her own through scenes, dialogues and actual letters, as well as portions of Sr. Chittister’s books and speeches. “The threads of inspiration are advanced with another voice, that of an author (Bays) living or struggling with Joan’s words,” said Bays.
She finished writing the play in 2016 and began performing it throughout the country in 2017. After reading the script, Sr. Chittister wrote, “The work is seamlessly, artfully and movingly welded together. It’s a fresh and interesting approach to the notion of the universality of women today. It has heart and substance…great praise.”
“We look forward to Teri’s portrayal of Sr. Joan,” said Sister Janice Cebula, president of the Sisters of St. Francis. We have been inspired by her work in justice, peace, contemplative prayer and equality for women for many years.” The Clinton Franciscans honored Sr. Chittister in 2003 with the Clare Award, given to women who exemplify the characteristics of St. Clare and the values of the Clinton Franciscans.
Bays is looking forward to playing Sr. Chittister, whom she admires. “It is the thrill of my life, to play this remarkable woman and speak her inspiring words,” said Bays. “Joan is a passionate and prophetic voice in the church today.” Bays has performed in several off-Broadway shows in New York City including “The Duplex” and starred in several leading roles including Maria in “The Sound of Music,” Anita in “West Side Story” and “The Witch in Into the Woods.” In addition to this play, Bays has written a book, “Through Stained Glass: The Priests of My Life,” and has recorded two CDs, Spark of Creation and Sacred Songs, Sacred Space.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information please call the Sisters of St. Francis Administrative Offices at (563) 242-7611 or email the Sisters at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Sisters’ website at