"Teri Bays' performance is deeply moving. It evokes many emotions about the struggle to understand the important role of women...Learn of the courageous examples of leadership Joan and Teri set for all of us!"
Rabbi Alicia Magal
Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley
Rev. Monica Whitaker, Episcopal priest, St. Andrews, Sedona AZ
Sr. Carol Jaruszewski, Sister of Mercy, NJ
Stephanie Konen, former news reporter
Sr. Mary Pauline Hogan, Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth
Victoria MacDonald, Spiritual Director, Santa Rosa, CA
Mary Jane, OP, Dominican Sister of Sparkill, NY
By Morristown Green Contributor - September 18, 2017
By Linda Stamato
Some 28 years ago, Teri Bays sent a letter to Benedictine nun Joan Chittister.
“I wish your words were on my lips,” wrote Bays.
They are now…..with stunning and, at times, shocking, effect. The large and appreciative audience gave Ms. Bays a standing, sustained ovation at the conclusion of her performance.
Joan Chittister is a woman for all seasons. With 60 books, 12 honorary degrees, leadership positions too numerous to count, and a global following, this revered author and speaker has had a lot to say about peace, justice, women’s issues and the role of religious life in the modern world.
She certainly has created a presence. And Teri Bays, her disciple, “becomes” her to demonstrate through Chittister’s words–and her own–the profound connection between them. She intensifies Chittister’s impact and makes it at once personal and universal. The performance is deeply affecting.
As Bays moves from left to right on the stage, we hear each woman in various times and places, and witness the strands of experience that connect them.
Bays’ mother was in elementary school with Chittister; both women, as girls, sought refuge from terror in their households that were fueled by their fathers’ alcoholism and abuse.
Seeking freedom from fear, they found solace in books, in their diaries and journals, and in companionship and support in the homes of friends, in Bays’ case, and in Chittister’s, in the Benedictine convent which she joined as a novice in 1952.
Their paths diverge and come together as certain themes emerge: Struggling for standing, engaging in protest, embracing non-denominational spirituality, seeking self-understanding in times of change, teaching to embrace social justice, and loving music.
They both experience and resist intolerance, racism and sexism in the church, and, confidently, distance themselves from it.
Seeking to advance morality over religiosity, they take stands for life–more than birth, living free from poverty and duress–they attack the “enemies of our time: Power and profit,” and they assert their equality, resist silencing, and answer the call to leadership, in different ways to be sure.
As Chittister says, “The church needs women for its salvation,” I heard a strong echo from her disciple and supportive murmurs from the audience.
Bays’ performance is delivered with a heavy hand–Chittister’s compelling words–but also with a light touch–expressing the great good humor of both of these talented, courageous and resilient women.
The Rev. Dennis Crowley of Assumption Church and Bernice Anglin await start of 'Joan Chittister: her Story,' Sept. 15, 2017. Photo by Linda Stamto
Prophets and poets both, they are leading the new way, using public settings, churches, lecture halls and stages to have their voices heard, urging people, as Chittister says, “to live faithfully and to love radically, ” to be public thinkers so as to inspire openness to possibility, resisting retreat to past ways.
Billed as “a one woman play for all women,” Joan Chittister: Her Story, is so much more.
It is a play for men too, and especially for those who wear clerical collars; it is for all those who work for change in the church and more, for those who share faith in humanity, peace, spirituality and common purpose.
Bays’ appearance was supported in part by the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community, whose roots are solidly in the tradition of Vatican II. Its mission was given a burst of energy and spirit tonight and Sister Joan Chittister and Teri Bays found themselves in good company.
Sedona AZ (April 6, 2019) – Teri Bays is bringing her one-woman show “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” back home to Sedona for a one-night performance at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
Now with images, this performance precedes Bays joining Chittister herself for the prestigious Joan D. Chittister Lecture/Event series in Erie, PA, whose past distinguished guests have included Maria Shriver and Cokie Roberts.
A timely piece, “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” addresses issues around women, abuse, identity and overcoming adversity. This one-woman play will be performed by Teri Bays on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
A timely piece, “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” addresses issues around women, abuse, identity and overcoming adversity. Joan Chittister is an international speaker on subjects of peace and justice. A co-founder of the Women’s Global Peace Initiative, and a radical Benedictine nun of Erie, Sister Joan has authored sixty books on justice, peace and equality and is a courageous and passionate voice in the Roman Catholic Church. She has appeared with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday as well as NOW with Bill Moyers.
“Joan is a passionate and prophetic voice in the church today. It is the thrill of my life, to play this remarkable woman and speak her inspiring words,” said Bays.
One has to see the play to discover the connection between Chittister and Bays. But as the threads of their lives are revealed, audience members begin to see themselves in the story as well.
Teri Fiorito Bays — a singer, writer, actress — served as Director of Music and Liturgy at St. John Vianney Church in Sedona for fifteen years, is the solo artist of two CDs and the author of “Through Stained Glass: The priests of my life”. Bays has performed leading roles with FLOC and Canyon Moon Theatre, as well as starring in musicals and in cabaret shows in New York City’s iconic The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama’s.
In her one-woman play, she weaves the themes of identity, abuse and adversity like threads in a tapestry so we both relate to the characters while also feeling inspired by Chittister’s words and wisdom. Scenes with other characters, all portrayed by Bays, as well as published writing, letters and speeches are all used to tell the story.
Chittister has described the play: “The work is seamlessly, artfully and movingly welded together. It’s a fresh and interesting approach to the notion of the universality of women today. It has heart and substance….great praise.”
Teri Bays’ “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” will be performed on Saturday, April13 at 7 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Tickets are $20. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177 or to order online, visit www.SedonaFilmFestival.org. You may also purchase tickets at the Sedona Film Festival office and Mary D. Fisher Theatre, located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona.
Joan Chittister Radio Interview about Play: