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John Cieslinski, the owner of Books, ETC. on Main Street in Macedon has written a play that will be presented at the first Rochester Fringe Festival. His play is called The Divine Milieu: The Last Confession of Teilhard de Chardin and will be performed by his lifelong childhood friend, Rev. Ed Heidt, on Friday, September 21 at 4:30 pm and Saturday, September 22 at 11:30 am at the Xerox Auditoroium downtown.

The play is a one hour monologue in which John imagines the last confession of the Roman Catholic priest-paleontologist-philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above) who was a Jesuit priest and scientist who came into conflict with Roman Catholic church teachings during his lifetime (1881-1955). His last confession was on Holy Saturday in April of 1955 and he died the next day, Easter Sunday, 1955. He is remembered as saying “If I have not been wrong in my life, I beg God to let me die on Easter Sunday.” In this last confession, as John imagines it, Teilhard confides his feelings to his confessor. He spent his life being discouraged and frustrated by the church’s rejection of him and his work and studies. The monologue glimpses these inner feelings, rarely expressed by him. He spent most of his life trying to appease the church and do what it wanted.

John and Rev. Ed Heidt are childhood friends. They grew up on Borchard Street in Rochester and started doing plays in the Heidt family three-car garage for the neighborhood and these were not “kiddie plays.” During their teenaged years, they attempted such classics as “The Importance of Being Ernest,” “The Tempest,” and Sophocles’ “Antigone.” They re-kindled their theater relationship about 15 years ago when Ed was performing plays for the Canadian fringe festivals. Ed was living and working teaching English at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, Canada and he took his own play about Thomas Merton “Holding a Mirror to the Mountain” to five Canadian cities for their fringe festivals. John saw that play in Toronto and the next year he joined Ed and they presented “Shakespeare’s Fools” at the fringes in Winnipeg and Saskatoon. “Shakespeare’s Fools” became a trilogy with “Shakespeare’s Women” and “Shakespeare’s Teacher” in subsequent years. More recently they presented a modern adaptation of Moliere’s comedy “The Hypochorndriac.”

Both of them have retired from teaching; John from Middle School in Hilton, New York and Ed from high school and university teaching. John has been working steadily now at Books, Etc. and Ed has retired to Las Cruces, New Mexico where the Basilian Fathers have a retirement community. John would like the Macedon community which he loves and where he works to come to see his play.


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