The Gregorian Institute Shield, composed of the crossed gold and silver keys of the Papal Insignia, an open book with the words 'Via Veritas Vita' ('The Way, the Truth, and the Life') written on its pages, three golden six-sided stars on a red banner, and a Germanic cross.

at BENEDICTINE COLLEGE

The Riddle: A Student’s Catholic Musical

Healey at the Benedictine College's Healey at the Benedictine College’s “Jam for the Lamb”

A student here at Benedictine College — who was previously known as an altar server at St. Benedict’s Abbey — has completed a remarkable achievement: He wrote, produced, directed and starred in a musical that features guns, swords, great original songs, and the faith.

I first heard about The Riddle last year when my kids told me that they wanted to go watch it with their friends who had already seen it and liked it so much they were going a second time. Benedictine College theology professors from our home-school group here in Atchison, Kansas, gave the play rave reviews in its “unofficial” staging last year. This year a more official school production of the play was produced to coincide with the beginning of Lent.

I love what Healey has done because I believe that young Catholics raised during the faith revival we have experienced since the Denver Youth Day will surprise us with what they do with and for the faith. Healey told the school paper that he calls the play “God’s play” because it is providential that the play has been staged at all.

“In late January [2011], I lost all of the resources I had been counting on, and I was faced with two alternatives: either I had to trust in God to provide everything I needed, or to fail trying to push forward on my own steam. I came to see that unless God willed my play to be a success, it was doomed to failure, but that if he willed it to be, nothing could stand in the way,” he said.

With all his resources gone, “I put the play in his hands and said, ‘It’s your play, Lord. Your will be done,’” Healey said. “Within two months, everything that I had desired came out of nowhere, we performed a three-day run for over 350 friends and family, and the funds we had provided out of pocket were completely paid for by donations, so that the whole production was a tremendous success.”

Healey, who is from Oklahoma, has always enjoyed musical theater.

“This was an amateur — from the Latin amare, to love — production,” says Healey. “As an amateur production, mistakes, tech issues, faults on the part of the creators, directors, cast and crew come as part of the package. I appreciate the criticisms I have received, both positive and negative, because I want people to engage in a dialogue with the play, not simply to enjoy it and then dismiss it from their minds.” Why do audiences like my children and their friends enjoy it so much? Because of a key decision Healey made: “I wanted to have both guns and swords,” said Healey.

“So I picked a time period and folded that into it.” Exactly what he should have done. Watch the video above and enjoy a song and some highlights from The Riddle.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes is vice president of college relations at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer and then spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. He writes weekly for Catholic Vote, the National Catholic Register and Aleteia. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Catholic Digest. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and nine children.