By: Brigid Curtis Ayer
CONVERSION LEADS TO CREATING A MUSICAL PRODUCTION
CARMEL—The Cross and the Light (TCTL) creator, Kelly Nieto, shared her conversion story and her call to share the good news through a modern, high-tech production of Christ’s passion, resurrection and descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Nieto’s presentation at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Jan. 19, drew a large group of parishioners and others who came to hear her witness.
The Cross and Light is an international, critically acclaimed musical and multi-sensory video experience of Christ’s Passion, Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The production is an authentic biblical proclamation of the greatest love story of all time which is based in the Archdiocese of Detroit, but has spanned out to as far as Australia. The Gospel extravaganza production comes to Carmel High School on March 10-12, 2017. The performance is being sponsored by eleven parishes in the Carmel deanery.
MOTHER’S NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE PROMPTS NIETO TO SEEK GOD
Happily married, mother of two, living the good suburbia life outside of Detroit, Nieto said she “had it all.” Large house, great husband, successful career as a stand-up comedian and performer, but Nieto said it was her mother’s near death experience that brought her to her knees crying out to God. “Jesus knocked me off of my egotistical high horse,” said Nieto, “and I’ve never been the same since.” Nieto remembers giving her life to God saying, “God if you’re real, I need you now, I give you my life, just save my mother.”
Describing herself as an Atheist who held séances in her house on a regular basis, Nieto became a born-again Baptist in 1998. After her conversion, Nieto said she couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. Her conversion caused quite a rift between Kelly and her husband Dominic who was a cradle, but a lapsed Catholic. Nieto said she was praying for her husband to leave the Catholic Church, and Nieto’s husband was trying to prove to Kelly the Catholic Church was right. Kelly recalls Dominic saying to her, ‘You’re not the woman I married. You have become one of those Christians that we hate and make fun of’. She told Dominic, “You’re a Christian too.” He replied, “No I’m not, I’m Catholic.”
CONVERSION TO GOD LEADS TO CATHOLICISM
Proving that Catholicism was the one true faith was a bit of a challenge for Nieto’s husband since Dominic didn’t know why it was right, but knew in his heart it was. This led Dominic to a website called Catholic Answers, a Catholic apologetic apostolate. Kelly said Dominic would come home from work with a recent print off on a topic from Catholic Answers, lay it down on the table and say, “Read this, and then we’ll talk.”
This went on for months, until after much reading and praying, Kelly said she fell in love with the genius of the Catholic Church and knew she had to become Catholic. Nieto began Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Easter of 2000, Nieto entered the Catholic Church. A day earlier, on Good Friday, Kelly had a vision while praying the Stations of the Cross at her parish. At the second station, Nieto said she experienced horrific spiritual pain when Jesus was flogged. She had a vision of The Cross and The Light production, and she said she heard God say to her in her spirit, “This is why you’re here!” Kelly knew she had found her purpose in life.
“God does not choose perfect people,” she said. “He chooses people who will make themselves available to him.” And that’s exactly what Nieto did.
Nieto, a former Miss Michigan and Miss America runner up, worked as a performer, a musician, but was not a composer. Yet by God’s grace she wrote, produced and composed the music for the musical production called The Cross and the Light. After roughly 17 years, the mother of five diligently and tirelessly, has worked to bring this production to over 90,000 people.
“We live in a post-Christian era,” Nieto. “We have a powerful, timeless message of the good news of Jesus Christ, but we need to tell this story using today’s high-tech modes of communication to reach a culture that is accustomed to this kind of delivery of entertainment. This is what we are doing with The Cross and the Light.”
MAJORITY OF CATHOLICS DISENGAGED FROM JESUS
A study conducted by Matthew Kelly found that 93 percent of Catholics are disengaged with what Jesus has done. This indicates a serious problem in the challenge to evangelize says Nieto. “We have to reach people with the greatest story ever told, and we need to tell them it in an engaging way.” The Cross and the Light production is more than a performance, it’s an experience of God’s love and opportunity for “real conversion”. Nieto says the experience is so emotional it brings people to tears. “We have made confessions available after the show and there are always very long lines.”
BOOK THE CROSS AND THE LIGHT AT YOUR PARISH
For more information on how to book the Cross and the Light production at your parish go www.crossandlight.com