Director/Producer: James Rutenbeck
Scenes from a Parish
This feature-length documentary focuses in-depth on a working-class, Roman Catholic Parish located in the poorest town in Massachusetts, Lawrence, as the Parish struggles to adapt to a rapidly changing multicultural society.
Father Paul O’Brien, a vibrant, young Harvard-educated Catholic priest arrived in Lawrence, in 2001, to preside over St. Patrick Parish. The mills at the center of life in Lawrence had all closed, and Irish-American families dwindled in number as a wave of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Vietnam and Cambodia relocated to this impoverished town.
Father O’Brien’s greatest challenge: to foster an inclusive community within his Parish. Director James Rutenbeck filmed Father O’Brien’s efforts over a four-year period as he struggled daily to create a loving and supportive environment.
Father O’Brien’s humor, humanity and strong leadership guided his Parish to come together to build a church-based community center dedicated to feeding three meals a day to and sheltering the hungry of Lawrence.
Filmmaker Rutenbeck’s documentary also delves into the lives of a number of the parishioners as they struggle with issues ranging from ethnic tension to poverty, and from generational friction to homosexuality. Rutenbeck succeeds in showing that a common faith can overcome personal, intergenerational and cultural obstacles to create a viable, thriving and cohesive community.
If you would like to explore films with similar themes, please click on Christianity.