Show featuring the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish
Courtesy of Mary Jo Lewno
Christ the King parishioners Mary Jo Lewno and her grandson, Alex Blair, near Dallas on the set of ‘The Chosen’ television show June 7.
Anne Mancino walked into a field in Texas on June 8, wearing a headscarf, sandals and a plain green dress, and sat in the middle of a crowd of 5,000 people to hear the words of Jesus . It was like stepping back in time.
“We have to sit about 20 feet from where Jonathan (Rumie, actor portraying Jesus) sat and taught the parable of the sower,” said Mancino, a 64-year-old Little Rock resident. “I’m listening, sweating in these first-century clothes, and part of me felt that I was sitting and listening to Jesus; and I know he’s not Jesus, but that brings you to this point. … You hear that Jesus was preaching to 5,000 people, and then you see that and think ‘Wow. That’s how they were back then, walking miles to see this guy because he was so exciting to them.
Mancino was one of about 11,000, including a handful of Catholics from Arkansas, who traveled to Midlothian, Texas, 25 miles southwest of Dallas, in early June to be extras on the popular show streaming “The Chosen”, describing the life of Jesus. The show revolved, among other scenes from the life of Jesus, the story in Matthew 14:13-21 where Jesus feeds 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish.
“The Chosen,” which streams for free on the Angel Studios app, launched its pilot in 2017, releasing its first season two years later. It is the first multi-season show about the life of Jesus and has garnered millions of fans and rave reviews. The show has released two seasons, with a third season to be released later this year. Its goal is to tell the story of Jesus across seven seasons, with each season funded by viewers, according to watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen.
“It was just fun to know that we were part of it, and it was fun to share it with other people who knew I was going, who were excited for me. And I have to feel like God blessed that. , otherwise I wouldn’t be supporting this. I really wanted to get the word out about what a good show is; life changing.”
“We will bring our loaves and fishes, you bring yours by paying for them and together we will watch God perform miracles,” according to the website.
So far, 23% of Season 4 has been funded, with Seasons 1-3 being 100% funded. The series, so far, has 16 episodes plus a Christmas special. It was an ambitious undertaking by filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, who created, directed and co-wrote the series, which was the most successful crowd-funded media effort of all time.
Mancino, a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock, said she was a fan of the show from the very beginning.
“It’s so in-depth on everyone, unlike most movies, even great ones, that are about Jesus and his displicies that aren’t in-depth on anyone. They go in-depth on every apostle, Mary Magdalene, they come back to scenes from the Bible, the Old Testament. … It makes you feel like you’re there,” she said. “It’s good because they show them as human, Jesus as human, which he was. He jokes, laughs, gets angry. It’s such a good portrayal of people and all the actors were obviously chosen by God to play those roles.
So last August, when Mancino saw that the show was selecting extras to be part of the “Feeding of the 5,000” episode, she was all in, along with close friend and fellow parishioner Diane Hanley.
Extras were those who donated at least $1,000 to the project.
“We just felt privileged. It’s a cause close to our hearts,” Hanley, 67, said of her and Mancino.
Mary Jo Lewno, a parishioner at Christ the King Church in Little Rock, also donated. For an extra $100, she was able to bring her 19-year-old grandson, Alex Blair, a freshman film student at the University of Central Arkansas to Conway.
“There are so many people talking about how their life has totally changed or the life of a child or a parent who watched it. That they were totally affected by it,” Lewno said of the show. “It’s definitely worth the donation because it’s such evangelism.”
While Lewno and Blair were back quite far on the day of their shoot, June 7, they were treated to a surprise conversation from the cast, who showed up on stage.
“You’ve never seen a 77-year-old get on stage so fast,” laughed Lewno. “…They all talked about their feelings seeing so many of us there and knowing that we had helped to be there, traveled there and made our costumes.”
Since the show was unrecorded, there were photo ops, meals, and praise and worship music for fans to enjoy. Everyone had to take a COVID test before arriving and were also tested for COVID on site. According to “The Chosen” Facebook page, the extras came from all 50 states and 36 countries.
Hanley and Mancino received fish from the Apostle Matthew, played by Paras Patel.
“Being there at the Feeding of the 5,000 even though we were just acting…to see the extent of what the apostles had to deal with, all these people and there were only 12 of them holding baskets. .. it was a huge event, a huge job for those original apostles,” Hanley said, adding that the scope of the miracle parallels the miracle that Catholics experience in the Eucharist.
“The body of Jesus is enough to feed the whole world. From sunrise to sunset, masses are celebrated. The disciples of Jesus are over there distributing the bread like that,” she said.
The two also got to meet show creator Jenkins, who Lewno said wanted to greet and interact with people.
“It’s going to change your life,” Hanley said of the show and the experience. “It’s like 21st century Lectio Divina because you immerse yourself in Scripture. What did it smell like? What did you feel ? What do you mean? What was happening around the corner? close to Jesus, questions typical of the Lectio Divina style of prayer with the Scriptures, putting oneself in the story.
“They thought and prayed through all these sensory pieces like Saint Ignatius,” Hanley added, even though the creator isn’t Catholic. Roumie, who plays Jesus, is Catholic and often brings her voice talents to the Catholic prayer app Hallow.
For Lewno, it was a unique experience with his grandson but also a way to share on the show.
“It was just fun knowing we were part of it, and it was fun sharing it with other people who knew I was going, who were excited for me,” Lewno said. “And I have to feel that God blessed that, otherwise I wouldn’t support that. I really wanted to spread the word about what a good show is; lifestyle change.”
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