Since 1980, Saint Luke Productions has brought professional theatrical, DVD and feature film dramas on the life of Christ and His saints to millions of people throughout the English-speaking world. This unique ministry and production company began when Leonardo Defilippis was a Shakespearean actor with the dream of presenting the Gospel of Luke in a new dramatic form, as a one-man production that would tour Northwest U.S. churches for a season. He wrote to Saint Teresa of Calcutta asking her for guidance in his newfound apostolate. Through a personal, written correspondence to Leonardo, Mother Teresa inspired him with her encouragement. Her mandate to “do something beautiful for God" became the basis for Saint Luke Productions' mission to evangelize and renew the culture through theater and the media. His first show’s title, "The Gift of Peace: The First Six Chapters of Saint Luke’s Gospel," was based on Mother Teresa's Nobel Peace Prize speech in which she stated, "Let us thank God for this gift of peace that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and that Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor."
In his zeal to serve God, Leonardo Defilippis set out and performed "The Gift of Peace" in more than a hundred churches. Audiences were struck by the generous sacrifice of this talented young man, and most especially, by the powerful impact of his production. No expense was spared in the production, which included costumes, lighting and an original musical soundtrack; this dedication to quality has continued ever since. Forty-two years later, Saint Luke Productions, run by Leonardo and his wife, Patti, has evolved into a professional non-profit company whose productions have toured the globe. Its televised productions on Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Francis, Saint John of the Cross and the Gospel of Luke have been broadcast internationally and received numerous awards.
“We’re unique in doing live drama,” Leonardo says. “We don’t have a home theater, so we go to churches, schools, theaters, gyms, prisons, monasteries -- places where we can reach people. Live drama is intimate and impactful.”
Saint Luke Productions' feature film "Thérèse," the story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, generated tremendous grassroots and film industry support. It played in mainstream movie theaters for an unprecedented 70 weeks. "Thérèse" was the first major motion picture distributed solely by an independent Catholic film company and funded entirely by donations. In DVD release, the film continues to inspire conversions and vocations.
"I first met Leonardo and Patti Defilippis while Archbishop of Portland in Oregon," said the late Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago. "I was impressed with their vision and their understanding of the importance of a Catholic voice within the entertainment industry. Leonardo and Patti are creating a training ground for young artists and restoring the dignity of the professional arts through live drama, film and television."
Subsequent live dramas by Leonardo and Patti have traveled to audiences far and wide. "Vianney" debuted during the Year of the Priest; "Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy" was launched during the Year of Mercy. The film adapted from the play, entitled "Heart of Mercy", is currently in post-production.
"Tolton: From Slave to Priest," opened in late 2017 after two years of anticipation and work, with the guidance and support of the postulator for Venerable Father Tolton's cause, Bishop Joseph Perry. At the time of his decision to create "Tolton," Leonardo was captivated by Father Tolton's dramatic and inspiring life story. Since the "Tolton" opening, the play has been performed more than 300 times for more than 50,000 people. "Tolton", the film version of the live play, is also in post-production.
To date, Saint Luke Productions has produced seven inspiring films, 14 audio dramas, four audio rosaries, and the popular daily reflections audio series based on Pope Emeritus Benedict's writings, "Benedictus Moments." Their live productions have been seen by millions of people throughout North America and Europe.