Praise for Scenes From a Parish

Congratulations to Director of Photography Stephen McCarthy, Composer Seamus Egan and Director James Rutenbeck, all recipients of the 2009 Insight Award of Excellence from The National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists.

  • “Your eyes and ears tell you that Scenes from a Parish is a documentary. So does a source that might be more reliable: PBS. Had it not been so, you might swear that this study of an urban Catholic congregation was a novel: with its absorbing and wrenching multiple storylines knit into an eloquently disturbing civic vision, James Rutenbeck’s film has a scope that’s positively Zola-esque” —Celia Wren, COMMONWEAL
  • “[Scenes From a Parish] unfolds in a series of incredibly diverse personal stories as both O’Brien and his fractious flock struggle to hold fast to their faith in the face of dire circumstances.” —Chicago Tribune
  • “The Vatican is trying to rouse Catholics’ ire toward Ron Howard’s upcoming ‘Angels and Demons’ without giving the blockbuster drama exactly the publicity it craves. Here’s an idea then: Steer the faithful, and everyone else, to ‘Scenes from a Parish,’ a surpassingly lucid documentary…It raises more questions about the church’s place in a changing world—and touches more emotions doing so—than any big-budget studio folderol.” —Ty Burr, BOSTON GLOBE
  • “James Rutenbeck’s modest, old-fashioned, simply shot documentary is exactly the right way to tell a story of old-time verities and virtues, daily life in a Catholic parish in Lawrence where the several priests are good guys, and where many of the parishioners struggle to put Christian charity into practice.” —Gerald Peary, BOSTON PHOENIX
  • “…will renew your faith in God and the cinema.” —LOWELL SUN
  • “Highly recommended for students of urban life and religion.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL
  • “A surefire discussion starter for religious and community groups and college classrooms.” —BOOKLIST
  • “If Flannery O’Connor had been alive, she would relish ‘Scenes from a Parish.’ The documentary is both a subtly shocking peeling the lid off a hidden third world in an America that is only now allowing itself to wake up to how deep its depression runs, and a tribute to the wonderfully catholic collection of people, with their graces, foibles, hopes, prejudices, who make up as multi-faceted a parish as anyone could imagine, and who find themselves involved by their pastor, in some cases without really knowing why, in feeding the poor. Grace and inadequacy blend beautifully together in this tender and poignant portrait.” —James Alison, Catholic Theologian, Priest and author

News Coverage

PBS National Premiere

As seen on the PBS series Independent Lens.

Scenes From a Parish DVD

Order DVD

DVD is available in home video and for parishes, colleges and universities.

with English and Spanish subtitles


Order Faith-Sharing Edition

Also available is the Faith-Sharing Edition DVD and Film Faith-Sharing Guide through RENEW International

Order Faith-Sharing Edition

Watch Online

The film is available for online streaming through Snag Films.

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