(John Woods's article appeared in Catholic New York, 8/27.)
A Saint on Stage
Casey Groves and Blessed Damien de Veuster go back all the way to the 38-year-old actor's high school days at De La Salle High School in New Orleans. In his senior year, the school's theater director, Christian Brother Michael Livandais, thought that Groves could handle the demanding title role in "Damien," a one-man drama about the life of the Belgian missionary priest Father Damien who gave years of selfless service to those with Hansen's disease, or leprosy, on the island of Molokai in Hawaii in the 1870s and 1880s. Father Damien will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 11.
For Groves, the portrayal truly became the role of a lifetime, so much so that he has performed "Damien" some 100 times over the years, with two extended runs in Hawaii, including one this spring. "My calling is to do theater that has a spiritual theme to it," he told me in a recent phone interview.