Conan O'BrienFather Paul O'Brien
In 2001, an irreverent, young, Harvard-educated Catholic priest arrived at Saint Patrick Parish in the hard-pressed former mill town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Father Paul O'Brien soon discovered that trying to foster an inclusive community amidst the ethnic tensions of this working-class, multicultural parish would be no mean feat. Older parishioners like Edna McGregor were resentful of a new generation of immigrants, people like the tattooed Elvys Guzman, a former gang-banger from Santo Domingo, who was seen playing basketball with other Latino teenagers in the parish center. Meanwhile more idealistic parishioners like Peggy Oliveto were trying to reach out to those in need but faced cultural entanglements that grew more complicated with the passage of time. Filmed over four years, SCENES FROM A PARISH explores the personal stories a Catholic parish struggling to reconcile the ideals of faith with the cultural realities of a globalized United States.