XIV Ministries had its tentative beginning in 2010 when founder Kevin Euteneuer first completed the script for “XIV from the Crowd”. Kevin showed the script to Jen, who doubles as his wife and most loving and honest critic. Jen encouraged him to show the script to the Deacon Duane Karmazin of their parish (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton / Omaha). Deacon Duane encouraged the presentation of “XIV” at the parish the following spring.
Despite the encouragement, fear and doubt raised their ugly heads. As a retreat writer and youth ministry volunteer for twenty years, Kevin had created numerous skits and short dramas, but never something so long and complex. Over twenty people would be needed for the cast and crew. Where would twenty people be found who would believe in an untried and untested idea enough to devote their time and talents to bringing it to life? And would anyone come to see it if they did?
Prayers were said, and prayers were amazingly answered.
Friends and friends of friends (and even a lucky in-law) generously responded. They reached out to others who likewise answered the call. Many came from Jen’s circle of acquaintances; most were, or at one time had been, parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann or nearby St. James parish. Some had performing experience in the St. James/St. Elizabeth Ann Seton annual melodrama production. Others had worked along with Kevin and Jen as volunteers for the St. Elizabeth Ann Life Teen and Overflow youth program. Some had performed in little skits or dramas for the youth group. Others hadn’t done anything like acting since high school—or ever.
Two words, we’ve learned are at the heart of ministry. The first is “Yes”: Saying “yes” to the call. The second is “Help”: Asking God and others for the help needed to do the mission. Kevin’s initial “yes” was followed by the “yeses” of many others. Deacon Duane created and printed the program. Ashley Lewis volunteered to spearhead the creation of realistic costumes. Projectionist? Lights? Assistant Director? Yes after yes followed. Despite numerous challenges—most arising from Kevin’s inexperience as a producer and director—things fell into place for the first presentation during Lent of 2011 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the parishioners of SEA came out to participate and support.
Rough Start…to Moments of Beauty
It would be nice to say the first presentation went off without a hitch. Alas, it started with a major hitch: our sole microphone screeched with feedback each time our Station One performer launched into her monologue. After several false starts and attempted fixes that failed, the mic was shut off and we went on without amplified sound. There were other awkward moments as first-time performers struggled with lines.
But there also followed moments, if not of perfection, of beauty, nonetheless. In the best of moments, members of the congregation found themselves on a mobbed street in Jerusalem. Persons from the crowd stood in front of them in flesh and blood, looked them in the eye, and rent their hearts before them. Love, despair, wrath, sorrow, confusion and more spilled out. Meditation went deep. Prayers were prayed. Psalms were sung. The Spirit worked. Hearts were touched, perhaps even moved.
Greatly encouraged and supported by the St. Elizabeth Ann parishioners and Pastor Fr. Frank Baumert, we continued to do “XIV” once a year at St. Elizabeth Ann for the following five years (2012-2016). We began, though, to feel a call to move beyond our home parish. In 2017, Fr. Walter Nolte, then pastor at St. Bernard’s (Omaha) parish, gave us the opportunity by inviting us to his church. That year, we presented at St. Elizabeth Ann and St. Bernard’s. Encouraged, as always, by the people of SEA as well as the warm reception at St. Bernard’s, we returned to St. Bernard’s the following year and reached out to St. James (Omaha), where Fr. Tom Weisbecker welcomed us. By 2019, we had a number of cast members from St. Wenceslaus parish (Omaha). Again, we reached out, and Pastor Fr. Tom Bauwens liturgist Cindy Brown, and St. Wenceslaus parishioners were wonderfully receptive.
At this point, we were beginning to think more seriously about how “XIV” could be built up from one or two presentations a year to a fuller ministry. At St. Wenceslaus, we for the first time made a discreet effort to ask for financial support so that we might expand our ministry. The congregation responded generously, contributing enough for us to create this website, for which we are very grateful.
Also, in 2019, Fr. Nolte, now pastor of St. Patrick’s in Fremont, Nebraska, invited us to his parish. We were excited, because it would be our first presentation beyond Omaha. Unfortunately, the spring of 2019 came with some of the worst flooding in Nebraska history. For nearly a week Fremont was virtually an island, with all roads in and out of the city flooded over and closed. As presentation day neared, we anxiously awaited news of road openings. Fortunately, one day before we were to present, a road was opened, and we were able to make the 45-minute drive to Fremont.
Fr. Walter and his staff and parishioners, despite all that was going on with the flooding, were welcoming, supportive and generous. It was a special honor to present there as they were still amid the crisis, with flood relief operations working from the church. The response of St. Patrick’s parishioners and their encouraging words moved us again to strive to expand our ministry, and we poured our efforts into a new presentation—The Magdalene XIV.
The Magdalene XIV
Lent of 2020 started out wonderfully for us. St. Wenceslaus and St. Patrick’s Parish of Elkhorn welcomed The Magdalene XIV to their parishes. Christina Rohling beautifully portrayed Mary Magdalene sharing her thoughts and reactions as she followed Jesus along the Way of the Cross.
After completing The Magdalene XIV presentations, we were looking forward to our tenth anniversary of presenting XIV from the Crowd later in Lent.
COVID-19 Cancels XIV from the Crowd
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of our scheduled presentations at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Vincent de Paul parishes. We were greatly blessed, though, with the opportunity to make podcasts of our presentations. Thanks to the expertise and hard work of Danae Schweiger and the great efforts of our performers we were able to create the podcasts in time to make them available during Holy Week. Given that the performers were recording in isolation, often in cars or closets that hampered movement and distorted voices, and given that they were rushed, using unfamiliar technology, had little time to practice, and with no personal feedback or direction, the recordings turned out incredibly well. We were able to make them available to four or five parishes and over four hundred people downloaded them.
The responses to The Magdalene XIV presentations and the podcasts encouraged us to do more.
Once again, the pandemic forced us to cancel live performances for Lent 2021 and our plan to re-record XIV from the Crowd. We were able to re-record The Magdalene XIV. Our goal is to make it available to all parishes in the archdiocese.
We are continuing work on other versions of the Stations of the Cross for 2022.