‘Jonah’ Production Promotes CLASP Campers’ Growth in Faith, Arts 


Stephanie Alvarez remembered when everything began to come together for her as she and some 60 cast and crew members were preparing for Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries’ (CYFM) presentation of “Jonah and The Prophettes” Aug. 6.

“It was terrifying at first because it seemed like they all knew each other and this was my first year,” the 16-year-old parishioner of St. Mary’s in Washingtonville told CNY. 

“Our second night, we were all talking in the hallway and had one of the funniest moments and really started bonding.”

The bonding continued throughout the weeklong camp for cast and crew members in preparation for the three-act musical as part of the fifth annual Catholic Literature and Arts Summer Program (CLASP) operated by CYFM.

Campers resided at the Mount Alvernia Retreat Center and performed in the gymnasium/auditorium at the former St. Mary’s School, both in Wappingers Falls. The camp’s mission is not only to perform on stage, but for everyone to grow in their faith and relationship with God through morning and evening prayer, daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration.

“It’s definitely gotten a lot stronger,” Stephanie said of her faith. “You  understand all the team members and adults here as they gave their perspectives and all the things you can relate to in your life. As you go along, you realize they went through this, too, and they realize God has a path for them.”

Stephanie added, “I always loved musical theater and church has always been a part of my life. I’ve gone every Sunday since I was born, probably. The mix of the two of them, I was like, ‘OK, sounds like a cool idea.’”

“Jonah and The Prophettes” tells the story of the Old Testament prophet. Jonah was angered when God asked him to preach to the Ninevites, conquerors of Israel. 

The cast was not too familiar with Jonah until they had the chance to perform the play, which had matinee and evening performances.- Juliana Barros, a 17-year-old parishioner of St. Columba in Hopewell Junction, was attending CLASP for the fourth time and shared what she learned. 

“That not all prophets are peaceful, nice and God-like,” she said. “They can be stingy in life, not mean, but not willing to do what God’s telling them to do.”

Father Erik Lenhart, O.F.M. Cap., who wrote the play, explained why he chose this story.

“It’s a great story,” said Father Lenhart. “It’s funny. It’s an amazing story. I read the story and the book of the prophet Jonah. It was obvious that staging it would be so much fun. The story has so much drama. He’s so angry. He’s so upset. The Ninevites have an instant conversion.”

Alexsis Romain, a parishioner of Our Lady of Sorrows in Manhattan, enjoyed her escape from New York City to the peaceful suburban setting for a second summer.

“We did really, really well,” said the Brooklyn resident. “In rehearsal, I was a little bit nervous because we were messing up here and there.

“Everything ran smoothly, it was a smooth performance.”

Regarding CLASP, the 16-year-old said, “It was a very good experience, and I suggest that people come.”