Updated Passion Enthralls Geneva
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
March 21, 2019
GENEVA— What’s the easiest way to connect with God? 
 
“Send Him a knee-mail,” said actor Brad Ellison, as he warmed up the 400-plus early afternoon audience attending the Cross and Light musical at St. Peter parish in Geneva on March 17. 
 
Father Jonathan Bakkelund, pastor, hoped the five performances of the musical and video surround experience of Christ’s Passion, Resurrection, and the Coming of the Holy Spirit, presented March 15-17 would stir souls during Lent. 
 
“Our attendance of over 3,000 people has been much better than expected,” he said. “One of the attendees told me she thought it would be just a nice play, but that she was speechless at what she had seen.”
 
The stirring music and actor portrayals of Jesus, Peter, Judas, Thomas, the Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleophus and Pilate captured the essence of Holy Week in a 21st century, multi-sensory way. 
 
The haunting sounds of Jesus scourged at the pillar left many in the church tearful.
 
Father Bakkelund thanked all the parish volunteers who helped to host the production. 
 
Before he gave the audience a final blessing, he said, “The Holy Spirit is here.”
 
As she left the church following the performance, Grace Prange, 16, said how happy she was to see the Cross and Light play. 
 
“Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is with us,” she said. “It showed how much Jesus loves us and was perfect for everyone of all ages who saw it today.”
 
Some attendees returned to see Cross and Light again. 
 
“People came back for more shows bringing their friends,” said Laurie Brown, director of parish services, “including those away from the Church and other family members. God is moving.”
 
Cross and Light was created by Kelly Nieto, a former Miss Michigan, Miss America runner-up and Miss America national talent winner. Her success led to travel and fame, but emptiness.
 
Nieto’s conversion to the Catholic faith, stemmed by a life-changing vision in 2000, inspired her to create Cross and Light. It was announced on March 15 that multiple Grammy Award winner Michael Omartian will produce a motion picture soundtrack for Cross and Light — The Movie.
 
“Most of the cast comes from Detroit, like myself,” said Ellison, who portrayed Pilate, a soldier and a priest. “I have been blessed to be part of this group for the past six years. The energy here at all of the performances has been very high. This is a great parish.”
 
Info: Cross and Light at facebook.com/crossandlight.