Thesis

Ceciliaville

This fictionalized history is the screenplay for a feature length motion picture. The setting for the story is St. Cecilia Parish in Detroit, the year prior to and the week of the riot of 1967. Fr. Ray Ellis has been appointed pastor to succeed Monsignor Hebert, an old man overcome by the social and religious changes of the 1960's. The new pastor initiates a liturgical renewal, aided by Morgan Grant, and a community revitalization sparked by his own warmth and sensitivity. Conservatives, led by J.B. Fisher, discontinue their contributions. The ensuing financial crisis causes the parish to close its high school, generating both black and white displeasure. Within the community, a black Muslim leader, Malachi X, brands Ellis as a zealous white missionary come to save the heathen blacks. He himself preaches a volatile brand of social revolution. Over the objections of his bishop, Ellis covers the ceiling of the church with a mural of a black Christ and heroes of the American black movement, such as Malcolm X. He strives to provide black ownership of the businesses of the community, but in this he is greatly hampered by Fisher. Criticism grows and the bishop advises that he resign. He has this on his mind when the riot breaks out. Ellis becomes involved in a protective look-out operation from the church tower. Suspected of being a sniper, he becomes the target in a police shooting gallery, and in the melee Grant is arrested. Fisher charges that the priest's presence in the community has been inflammatory to riot. Uncertain of himself, Ellis tours the area, torn by days of burning and looting. The situation is discouraging, and Ellis has to draw upon the full measure of his Faith, in God and in his fellowman. He writes a letter of resignation, but conditions it upon the appointment of a black priest to replace him. Until that happens, he pledges to his people his continued service as their pastor.

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