The Prodigal Son acted by the men of Otisville

In March, our spiritual mentors and retreatants created skits based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, one of the most well-known and well-loved stories in the Bible, to find new and deeper connections to the story. The retreatants acted out the parable in different ways: Reality TV, Rap, Telenovela, and Blockbuster Movie. See how the men responded to this challenge!

The retreat at Otisville began as most do, with music! Tracey, Katherine, and Fr. Jack led the dance moves that got all of the men ready for the day. After this spirited beginning, Tracey spoke about the meaning of the Prodigal Son, focusing in on God’s mercy and our call to recognize this mercy and to work on being our best selves. In order to help integrate this message into the lives of the men, the spiritual mentors split the participants up into four groups to act out the story of the Prodigal Son.

The first group made a Reality TV Show. In this “show,” one participant acted like the Prodigal Son and the “episode” follows him through the trials and tribulations in the parable. Through several confessionals (to use Reality TV lingo), the audience discovers that he hits rock bottom and goes home. Upon returning home, the dad is so happy that the Prodigal Son is back and forgives him. The dad also tells his son that he needs to do some work on himself. Another confessional shows the father’s love for his son and the older brother’s resentment for what his younger brother did. This Reality TV Show gave participants an encouraging and important message to forgive and to be humble.

The second group incorporated dancing and rap (with a cameo by Fr. Jack!) to show how God’s mercy is everlasting and that the time to love and to forgive is now. The third group was able to package that same message in a Telenovela. True to the magic of the Telenovela, our participants acted muy dramático as they showed the deep sadness as the father loses his son; the humility and fear of the son when he wanted to eat the pigs’ food; and the resentment of the older son at his brother’s return. True to the style of the Telenovelas, the participants talked super fast. At certain points, you could barely understand them!

The final group recreated the movie classic, Forrest Gump. Merging this iconic movie into the Prodigal Son was no easy task. Members of this group had Forrest be the Prodigal Son. Forrest recounted his story (the parable) on a bench to anyone who would pass by. Forrest burned out from drug and alcohol use, but he was on his way to his Momma’s in order to make things right with her. This skit ended with the redemption so emblematic in the parable.

The men at Otisville loved acting and truly felt comfortable in front of one another! They also loved playing the “hardass” older brother and the “good guy” father. More importantly, these skits were able to instill the always important message of mercy, forgiveness, and self-reflection in their hearts.

Written by Christopher Meister, SJ — Spiritual Mentor at Thrive For Life

Christopher Meister, SJ