SALT LAKE CITY — At St. Vincent de Paul Parish, local Catholics have the opportunity to see several inspirational movies during the parish’s Lenten movie series.
In its fifth year, the series draws people of all ages. The brainchild of the pastor, Father John Norman, the series is meant to inspire and to provoke discussion.
“I think movies are a great way to learn; there are many, many very good movies available to learn from and also to have an experience you otherwise wouldn’t have,” Fr. Norman said. “Having a movie series for Lent just makes sense to me.”
“Lent is an established period of spiritual growth; what better time to do it?” he added. “People are very anxious to learn and participate.”
Fr. Norman has seen most of the movies himself. A former Catholic high school teacher, he experienced the effectiveness of movies in the classroom where he often used film to instruct, he said. He still keeps up with what is available on DVD.
The free series is an eclectic mix of Hollywood movies, documentaries, film festival winners, PBS and instructional movies.
Every Monday during Lent, parishioners, their friends and families gather at 7 p.m. in Holy Family Hall to view a movie chosen from a list compiled by Fr. Norman. It’s a casual time where people bring pillows, snacks and just enjoy the movie together. It’s usually a small group (the most they’ve had is 40). Some come to every screening, while others come when they can or when a particular movie interests them.
The movies are usually family-friendly. If, like last year when they screened “The Passion of Christ,” they show a movie that might not be suitable for everyone, parents are cautioned early so that they can decide whether it would be appropriate for their children.
After the movie, Fr. Norman often leads a group discussion that he opens by asking people what they thought of the film. In the past, the discussions have been thought provoking, he said.
The parish maintains a lending library so those who are unable to attend the movies can check them out and view them at home later.
The first movie of the series was “G-Dog.” The remaining movies for this year are “I Can Only Imagine” (March 18), “Quiet Heroes” (March 25), “The Power of Forgiveness” (April 1), “A Man for All Seasons” (April 8) and “Same Kind of Different as Me” (April 15).
This year the series includes a movie shown last year that Fr. Norman brought back at the request of parishioners. “The Power of Forgiveness” (April 1), a documentary, presents powerful real-life situations requiring some response of forgiveness from various settings, from Northern Ireland to Ground Zero to the Amish countryside.