It required a lot more planning, took longer to produce and looked a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Catholic Board of Education (CBE) accomplished what they said is an important task – they filmed the “Passion Play” – presented by CBE students for digital viewing.
The production is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death.
The one-hour production took about three weeks to film, including filming, editing, props, set and wardrobe.
The tradition of live stations has been a key presence in Catholic parishes and schools throughout The Bahamas from the mid-to-late 80s. Student participation in recreating the Passion allows students to enter in the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection on a personal level by immersing them in a concrete way in the salvific story.
Tavares Sweeting, a 12th grade student at Aquinas College who takes on the key role of Jesus in the play, said it was an edifying experience for him as he enjoys the story of Jesus and his life on Earth.
“Participating in this play was a very enlightening experience for me first of all, because I can feel the pain of carrying the cross. It makes us really realize the pain and struggling he [Jesus] went through on this Earth. Most of the time, as a young person, learning about the death of Jesus can feel impersonal, or you might just be learning it for a grade in religion [class]. This play really personalized the experience for me,” he said.
“I also think it is important for young people to have these experiences because it builds commitment. Commitment to learning lines, showing up to practice, basically… showing up. Experiences such as participating in the ‘Passion Play’ also help to build character because even though setbacks occur, you can still push through because true character is who you are when nobody is looking.”
CBE students watched the production virtually on their last day of school on Friday, March 26. The CBE Passion Play was released to the general public, via the Catholic Schools Bahamas YouTube Channel, on Good Friday.
The production included CBE students from Aquinas College, St. Cecilia’s Primary School, Sts. Francis & Joseph School, St. Thomas More School and Xavier’s Lower School, and was filmed at four different locations to minimize the mixing of students from the various schools.
Masks, temperature checks, sanitizers and social distancing all had roles in the “Passion Play”, but CBE officials said they felt it was important, particularly in the time of a pandemic and the mantra of social distancing, to share the love of Jesus with students and the community.
As the country is still in a pandemic, it was impossible for each school to produce individual Passion Plays, as last year, students were all learning remotely.
Claudette Rolle, CBE director, said this year it was important for Catholic schools to continue Mass and engage in activities such as the Passion Play.
“A Catholic education is a unique learning experience because it focuses on more than just academics. Catholic schools nurture the entire person in mind, body, and spirit. Catholic schools are faith-based communities where belief in God is part of the everyday environment. It is important – in fact more so in these times we find ourselves, to share the message of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus because it gives us a sense of renewed hope and like Christ, we shall rise again,” said Rolle.
The script for the CBE “Passion Play” was written by Leslie Hutchinson, vice principal, Xavier’s Lower School. Filming was done by Winston Rolle, Catholic Archdiocese communications team and Kentario McKenzie, Bright Light Productions.