Sister Nancy Murray visits Haliburton
By Vanessa Balintec
Sister Nancy Murray ended up in Haliburton thanks to teamwork and sheer luck.
After a last-minute cancellation from another venue, Murray, who’s booked back-to-back, had a slot open for another performance. When Jean Tyler, the organizer of the event, contacted her and got wind of the possible opening, she arranged for her sister to pick her up from Detroit and drive her to town.
“It’s a powerful story and a wonderful opportunity for the diverse community of Haliburton to come together,” said Tyler. “In our society, we don’t usually get shot dead. So for that story to be told, is very important and needs to continue being shared with others. That’s why we intentionally brought it here – we’re working on strengthening our relationship with one another.”
The 90 minute play tells the story of Sister Dorothy Stang, who was a missionary dedicated to protecting the forest and land with locals in Brazil. In 2005, Stang was martyred by hired men, and ever since then communities within Brazil and around the world have been celebrating her life and her hard work.
For the duration of the play, Sister Nancy milled about the raised stage, using different voices to showcase Stang, the villains, and her family. One minute she was on a table lighting candles, praying to God for strength, and the next she was dancing through the aisles, encouraging the audience to join her. This marked her 56th performance of Sister Dorothy, with her other main act as St. Catherine of Sienna at well over 900.
Murray says her experience travelling around the world has been an amazing privilege. “I kind of see it as a new form of preaching,” said Murray. “People hear, connect, and bring it to their experience in a different way.”
“We need to continue to hear these stories, of young strong women who work for peace,” said Murray. “Not everybody has the opportunity to have their story told. These stories encourage others, and really motivates them,” said Murray.
Many people don’t quite know what to expect when they attend a one-actor show, but the audience members left delightfully surprised.
Barb Perog, an audience and St Anthony Catholic Women’s League member, thought it was amazing and was pleased with the turnout.
“It just goes to show you what goes on in places you don’t really know about,” said Perog. “I’m happy I went.”
The play was a kickoff to the retreat taking place at St Anthony’s Parish, where prayer, mass and a potluck acted as themes of community worship and bonding.
As a warm thank you, the church community gifted Murray some maple syrup – a cheeky reference to her brother Bill Murray’s Meatballs movie that was shot in Haliburton close to 40 years ago.