Director Hopes Catholics Rally to "Thérèse"

Religious Film Opening This Week

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 28, 2004 ( The Little Flower is now on the big screen.

A film on the saint of Lisieux, «Thérèse,» opens around the United States this week.

The film follows Thérèse from her childhood to her entry into the Carmel and her death from tuberculosis at age 24, spotlighting the development of her character, her soul and her «Little Way.»

Leonardo Defillipis, the film’s director who also portrays Thérèse’s father, Louis Martin, considers this movie to be a work and exercise of faith.

«There are butterflies on opening night, but you have to trust in St. Thérèse — who she is and what she has accomplished to get us this far,» he said. «It’s a miracle that we’ve made and distributed this movie after working on it for so many years. I am confident in her.»

This nonprofit, donation-funded film is the first directed by Defillipis, a Shakespearean-trained actor who has produced and performed dramas on the Scriptures and the lives of the saints for more than two decades. Lindsay Younce, a one-time Quaker who converted to Catholicism, stars in the film as St. Thérèse.

Defillipis said he was surprised at the doors that God opened for the film, especially in its distribution.

«It’s amazing that ‘Thérèse,’ an independent, religious film, is being shown in the top two theater chains in the world,» he said.

«Now that the film is released, it will be something to see if Catholics are interested in our own spiritual legacy. ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was so supported by evangelical Christians and Protestants; I’m interested to see if Catholics rise up and rally around this very Catholic movie,» the director said.

Those who would like to bring the film to their towns are encouraged to petition their local theaters to show the movie.

«We’re getting inundated with calls and e-mails from all parts of the country and all over the world; people want to bring ‘Thérèse’ to their cities,» said Defillipis.

«Thérèse» has been dedicated to John Paul II, whose call for a new evangelization inspired Defillipis.

«I took his invocation seriously and decided that we needed to give the Church a voice,» he said. «I’m hoping that this film, the implementation of that voice, will be a work of holiness to touch people’s hearts and souls, drawing and attracting people to God’s presence.»

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