Sister for a Day

by Cecilia Rupell
SSJ Director of Communications & Public Relations

Recently, I had the opportunity to play a sister for the day on the set of THE HAIL MARY, a film by Daniel Roebuck, currently being filmed at the former Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pennsylvania, and other locations throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Danny, an actor, writer, director and producer, is a former student of the SSJ's in Bethlehem, PA. Throughout his 35+ year career, he has thanked the sisters for the positive role they played in his education and faith journey. THE HAIL MARY is the second film presented by A Channel of Peace, a 501(c)3 organization created by Danny and his wife, Tammy. The organization's mission is to produce movies and other media projects that advance family, faith in God, and the values of love, forgiveness, good works and gratitude.

This film is a comedy about Sister Kathy, a Catholic Sister with a sense of humor and purpose, who finds an angry loner in need of redemption. Sister Kathy leads him to his atonement by conning him into creating a football team for her all-boys Catholic School.

The role of Sister Kathleen, played by Marsha Dietlein Bennett, is especially meaningful for Danny. He gives a large amount of credit to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia for creating the perfect foundation, along with his parents, for his future as an artist. One sister, in particular, Sister Kathleen, was Danny's first-grade teacher. She had a significant impact on Danny, and this character is named after her for that reason. Other names from his days at St. Anne's of Bethlehem also pop up in his film. No doubt fellow alumni would remember Sister Alice and Sister Margaret Anthony.

For Danny, THE HAIL MARY is a love letter to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, as well as all of the Religious Sisters who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place!

The Sisters of Saint Joseph provided five habits for the movie and a profession cross (worn by a novice). The congregation depicted in the film is fictional. The habits, augmented with a white collar and a veil, are worn by the main sister characters. Other sisters, including yours truly, wore a combination of black and white. My role as an "extra" involved ushering three students down the hall and into a classroom. These boys were played by three special needs students from the Mercy School in Allentown, PA.

Movie-making involves much time waiting around. For me, this time was well spent in the "Nun Green Room," enjoying conversation with the sister actors. Much of the discussion involved me answering their questions about sisters—all in a day's work for a communications director for a congregation of Women Religious.

Read more about Danny's faith-based films in our One With magazine Spring 2019 edition