3x03 "Leap of Faith"

Leap Date:

August 19, 1963

Episode adopted by: MikeKraken
Additional info provided by: Mary Lea, Timothy Nohe, & Brian Greene


"I've been a priest."

These words by Sam in "Mirror Image" come to life as he leaps into the life of a priest who must prevent the murder of Father Mack, a senior priest at the church. Two young brothers may be involved as the older leads the younger down a dark road unless Sam can find a way for reform. Meanwhile, Al is having issues with his own faith.


Audio for this episode


TV Guide Synopsis
Leap Date

Name of the Person Leaped Into
Broadcast Date
Synopsis & Review

Project Trivia
Sam Trivia
Al Trivia

Al's Women
Al's Outfits Worn in the Episode

Miscellaneous Trivia
Kiss With History

Guest Stars
Guest Cast Notes
Say What?
Quotable Quotes
Best Scene
Production Credits



Production # 66408

TV Guide Synopsis:
Sam takes a leap of faith into a young priest and prays he can keep a killer away from a fellow father, who's a witness to the man's sins. Father John McRoberts: Sandy McPeak. Tony Pronti: Danny Nucci. Joey Pronti: Davey Roberts. Sam: Scott Bakula.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Leap Date:
August 19, 1963

Name of the Person Leaped Into:

Father Francis “Frank” Guiseppi Pistano, a Catholic priest only two years out of the seminary. He is here for his first assignment at St. Dorothy's.

Broadcast Date:
October 12, 1990 - Friday

Synopsis & Review:

It is said that the more disastrous the wedding ceremony, the more successful the marriage. If that's the case, Sam's leap has ensured this young couple's success. Sam leaps into a priest officiating a wedding ceremony, arriving apparently just at the moment he should now tell the groom he may kiss the bride. After some prompting by the groom, Sam allows them to do so. After the wedding, Sam notices Al waiting outside, but is stopped to be criticized by the Montachelli sisters (played by Erica Yohn and Penny Santon), who go to mass at that church every day. They noticed his shaky legs, heavy breathing, sweaty palms, the crack in his voice, and not introducing the newly-weds, but give a backhanded compliment that it wasn't the worst wedding they'd seen performed there and that the first time is always the hardest – it was the leapee, Father Frank Pistano's first wedding.

Sam is saved from the sisters by the church's senior minister, Father John McRoberts (played by Sandy McPeak) – who everyone calls Father Mac. In Father Mac's office, he praises Sam for reaching two milestones – performing his first wedding and surviving his first grilling by the Montachelli sisters. Father Mac drinks some “liquid courage”, claiming he will need it for the funeral he is to preside over that afternoon - a twelve-year-old boy named Sonny, whom Father Mac had baptized and watched grow up, had been hit by a train in suspicious circumstances, and now had to bury him too.

That afternoon, a brazen youth named Tony Pronti (played by Danny Nucci), and his younger brother Joey (played by Davey Roberts) are hanging around the cemetery. Tony breaks into a car and steals a necklace hanging from the mirror. Joey wants to visit their father's grave, but Tony won't allow it. Instead they crash Sonny's funeral. Tony offers his condolences to Sonny's crying mother, who spits in his face and yells “Murderer!” When Sam and Father Mac ask Tony to leave, he tells Father Mac he'll “see him around”.

When Sam and Father Mac get back to the church, Sam again notices Al waiting for him outside. Sam asks Al if he had leapt there to prevent a murder. After being told yes, Sam thinks he's too late, having already buried Sonny, but Al tells him he is actually there to prevent the murder of Father Mac, who will die sometime in the next 36 hours. Father Mac is one of two witnesses to a robbery a month earlier, in which a store clerk was killed. The other witness was Sonny – the boy that was buried today. Al tells Sam that the suspect, Tony Pronti, is facing trial in two days, and probably killed Father Mac to prevent him from testifying.

Back in the church, Father Mac is nearly killed when a massive cross is pushed from its perch in the rafters, but Sam pushes him out of the way. The police are called, but since it was dark and neither of them could positively identify Tony as the vandal, they can't arrest him, but offer to set up a police guard to try to keep Father Mac safe. That night, Sam takes a cab to a club in a seedy part of town to confront Tony. During a passive-aggressive exchange between Tony and Sam, Tony insults the dead boy, offending Father Mac, who followed Sam. A fight breaks out, but Sam – an experienced martial artist, and Father Mac – a champion boxer, put an end to it quickly, leaving a bewildered Joey to try to help a knocked-out Tony.

As they walk home along the train tracks, Sam wonders how a good boy like Joey gets mixed up with trash like Tony. Father Mac says they are brothers, and since their father died, their mother started drinking and ended up on the streets, so Tony is the only family Joey has. They reach the spot where Sonny was killed, and Father Mac laments how someone so small could leave such a huge gap when they leave. They hurry back to the church because it has started to rain and Father Mac needs a drink.

Back in his office, Father Mac gets very drunk. Sam tries to cut him off, saying it won't help anything, but Father Mac doesn't think it would hurt anything either, and when looking for another bottle, finds his shotgun and his war medals, including a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. Sam calls him a “war hero” and thinks he must have been the chaplain, but he was just a marine stationed in the pacific. He lost count of the number of people he killed during the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, when the enemy sent countless suicide squads at them, but swore if he survived that he would try his best to make up for it, and so became a priest. Father Mac doesn't know if he's living up to that vow, but Sam says he just has to do the best he can and have faith what he is doing does good in the long run. Father Mac asks if Sam thinks he does, to which Sam answers “yes”, but Father Mac is not so sure. He then passes out.

Unsure where his quarters are, Sam stumbles upon Father Mac's boxing gym. Al arrives and asks how Father Mac is. Sam replies that Father Mac is alive, but is worried about his mental state. Sam asks Al why Al has not been himself during this leap. Al reveals that when his father returned from the Middle East, he pulled Al out of the orphanage and Trudy out of the institution, trying to put the family back together. He even bought a house. But Al's father got sicker and sicker and had to be hospitalized, and was diagnosed with cancer. Al would visit him, and his father told him that he would be alright as long as Al prayed for him, so Al prayed and prayed... until the day his father died. Since then Al turned his back on God and the church, which is why he has been so uncomfortable during this leap. Al leaves, and Sam catches Joey, who has been hiding in the gym. Joey wanted to talk to Sam, but decided to wait 'til Sam had finished talking to himself. Joey wants Sam to talk to Father Mac, to tell him to not “rat” on Tony – if he testifies, then Tony will hang. Sam says that Father Mac has to tell the truth and that if Tony confesses, he has a good chance of beating the death penalty. Joey replies that Tony would kill him if he knew he was there, but all Tony was guilty of was trying to stay alive. He remembers that Tony wasn't always like this, Tony loved baseball and they used to go to see the Phillies on the weekends – their dad worked at the stadium selling hot dogs. But after their father died, Tony got mean, like he was mad at the whole world. Sam asks if Tony is trying to stop Father Mac, but Joey doesn't know.

The next morning, Father Mac is training boxing to a group of boys at the gym. A teenager tells Father Mac that he can't come to training that afternoon as he has a part-time job at a butcher shop, so Sam suggests he punch the beef hanging in the freezer – having seen it in a movie. The teenager likes the idea, and closes his locker, revealing his name – S. Stallone. Sam wants to talk to Father Mac, but he will only listen if they do a few rounds in the ring. Sam suggests that Father Mac leave town for a few days, to dry out and to stay alive until the trial. Father Mac refuses, saying he has never run from anything in his life. Sam lands a few good punches, knocking Father Mac to the ground, wonders aloud if Father Mac wants to die, and angrily tells Father Mac he'll do his confessions that day. Meanwhile, Tony loads his revolver with bullets. Joey tries to talk him out of it, and suggests they go to Canada instead. He doesn't think Tony would do this if their dad was still alive, and in a fit of rage, Tony reveals that their father was a loser who didn't care about any of them and killed himself – Tony is the one who found his dead body hanging.

Al can't believe that Sam offered to do Father Mac's confessions. Sam admits he was angry, and just wanted Father Mac to take a minute to think about staying alive. Al thinks confessions are sacred, which surprises Sam – Al's only explanation is that “old habits die hard” - but tells Sam to just forgive everyone and not talk too much. The first person in the confessional is Tony, who admits to having killed two people since his last confession ten years ago... Make that three... shooting at Sam, thinking it's Father Mac. He runs out of the confessional after firing six bullets, witnessed by one of the parishioners. Luckily, Sam recognized Tony's voice and ducked just in time, only being grazed by one bullet. It's still enough to stun Sam though, fainting just as Al arrives. Thinking Sam is dying, he tells God he swore to not have anything to do with him again, but that He can't take Sam like this because he'd helped too many people, and Al even resorts to praying for Sam. Father Mac, who has just arrived, calls to Sam, waking him up and prompting a “Thanks” to God from Al. The witness says it was Tony Pronti, so Father Mac goes after him. Al tells Sam to get up, because now history has changed and he has to stop Father Mac from killing Tony. With much difficulty, Sam gets up, runs out and borrows the Motachelli sisters' car to follow Father Mac.

Father Mac has Tony held at gunpoint on the railroad tracks where Sonny was killed. He wants a confession from Tony, threatening to shoot him if he moves and having the oncoming train run him over if he doesn't confess. Sam arrives as Father Mac is about to shoot Tony, and tells him that he doesn't have to do this, Tony will be found guilty as long as he testifies. But Father Mac reveals he didn't witness the shooting – Sonny was afraid, and so to comfort him, Father Mac pretended to have seen it too. Tony realizes he is now off the hook and tries to run, but Father Mac shoots in his direction, stopping him in his tracks. Sam gets on the track between the two of them, wanting to stop Father Mac from doing something he'll regret. Fearing for his life, Tony confesses to the murders just before the train is going to hit them, and Sam pulls him off the tracks just in time. The next morning, Father Mac is letting out some of his anger on a punching bag. Sam is surprised to see him there so early, but Father Mac says after having had alcohol as his crutch for ten years, he needed something else to break the habit. Sam tells him to take it “One Day At A Time”, coining the phrase. Al reveals that Father Mac stays sober and at the church for 20 more years, even winning a couple more golden gloves championships in the process. Tony doesn't hang, but does some serious time. He makes something out of his life when he gets out of prison though. Joey is also in good hands, being taken under Father Mac's wing. Al praises all the good work that Sam did, and with some praise directed back toward Al for praying for him, Sam leaps. Source

Personal Review by MikeKraken:

It's so easy to hate Tony Pronti, and feel sympathy for Father Mac. Sam's objective to prevent Father Mac's murder, and after changing that history, Father Mac from murdering Tony, seems more daunting than one would think. This episode is well written and well acted, and it's interesting how many small parts there are from people who have appeared in many other television seris and movies.

It's also nice to see an insight to the life of a priest, as well as the beliefs of Al. After a life of such hardship (the death of his father and sister, as well as five failed marriages) it's not surprising the amount of faith in God that he holds.


"Mickey’s Monkey" by The Miracles plays on the jukebox.

Project Trivia:

Handlink: second version, calulator type

Sam Trivia:

We see more of Sam's martial arts action, which must look quite humorous in the aura of an overweight, bald priest.

Al Trivia:

We find out that Al lost his faith in the church at the age of ten when his father died of cancer just after making lots of money and buying a house for him, Al, and his sister. Al prayed his heart out until his father died, taking seriously his father's words that if he prayed, everything would be fine.

Al's Women:
He mentions Tina.

Al's Outfits Worn in the Episode:

First through third appearances: Cream-coloured suit (sports jacket and matching pants), brown belt, Hawaiian-patterened dress shirt, dark reddish-brown dress shoes, thin tie, black with white polka dots, smoking lit cigar on first appearance.

Fourth and fifth appearance: purple-patterened dress shirt, thin silver tie, unlit cigar, black suspenders, white pants, purple shoes, beige belt.

Sixth appearance: White dress shirt, black vest, thin metallic purple tie; navy-blue pants, black belt with silver buckle, unlit cigar.

Miscellaneous trivia:
This might be the only episode that mentions the country of Canada. Joey suggests that his brother flee there.


Kiss With History:
Sam suggests that a young Sylvester Stallone try using beef in the meat freezer as a punching bag, which is later seen in the movie "Rocky."

Regular Cast:
Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett
Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci

Guest Stars:

Sandy McPeak as Father "Mac" McRoberts
Danny Nucci as Tony Pronti
Davey Roberts as Joey Pronti
Erica Yohn as Monchelli sister (#1)
Penny Santon as Monchelli sister (#2)
Kane Picoy as Young Man
Todd Raderman as Young Boxer
Pat Crawford Brown as Woman
Robert Beecher as Allen
Bo Sabato as Policeman
Dominic Oliver as Cabbie
Lisa Pasero as Mrs. Dellisio
Bud Sabatino as
Father Francis “Frank” Guiseppi Pistano (Mirror Image)
Amy Tritico as Tony's Girl

Guest Cast Notes:

Sandy McPeak as Father "Mac" McRoberts: Sandy McPeak was born on February 21, 1936 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA. He was an actor, known for Kelly's Heroes (1970), Patton (1970) and Centennial (1978). He died on December 31, 1997 in Nevada City, California, USA.

Danny Nucci as Tony Pronti: Danny Nucci was born on September 15, 1968 in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria. He is an actor and director, known for Titanic (1997), Crimson Tide (1995) and Alive (1993). He has been married to Paula Marshall since October 12, 2003. They have one child. He was previously married to Terre Bridgham.

Davey Roberts as Joey Pronti: Davey Roberts is known for Quantum Leap (1989), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990) and The Famous Teddy Z (1989).

Erica Yohn as Monchelli sister (#1): Erica Yohn was born on October 1, 1928 in Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. She was an actress, known for An American Tail (1986), Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) and Corrina, Corrina (1994). She was married to Tom Rosqui and Lars Speyer. She died on January 27, 2019 in California, USA.

Penny Santon as Monchelli sister (#2): Penny Santon was born on September 2, 1916 in New York City, New York, USA. She was an actress, known for Fletch (1985), Short Circuit (1986) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963). She was married to Bruno Della Santina. She died on May 12, 1999 in Burbank, California, USA.

Kane Picoy as Young Man: Kane Picoy was born on September 1, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is an actor and director, known for Tank Girl (1995), Only Human (2002) and Plump Fiction (1997).

Pat Crawford Brown as Woman: Pat Crawford Brown was born on June 29, 1929 in New York City, New York, USA. She was an actress, known for The Rocketeer (1991), Reality Bites (1994) and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997). She was married to Calvin Burdell Brown. She died on July 2, 2019 in the USA.

Dominic Oliver as Cabbie: Dominic Oliver is known for Baked Ziti (2016), House (2004) and That Marino Thing (1999).

Lisa Pasero as Mrs. Dellisio: Lisa Passero is known for Poison Ivy (1992), Quantum Leap (1989) and Evolver (1995).

Bud Sabatino as Father Francis “Frank” Guiseppi Pistano (Mirror Image): Was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Attended Brooklyn Technical High School and Polytechnic Institute of NYU, where he attained a BS in Aerospace Engineering. After school Vought Aircraft employed him in Dallas Texas. On a fluke Bud attended a casting session for a local Dallas sketch comedy show. He was offered a part in the ensemble cast and asked to write for the show. The show never took off but Bud decided to pursue acting in his spare time. His first paying gig was a Hardee’s commercial and then was cast in “Born on the 4th of July”, which was shot in Dallas.Bud resides in Los Angeles.

Robert Beecher as Allen: Bob was born in Hollywood and grew up in the Baldwin Hills area in a house his father had built. A natural showman even when he was very young, he would put on shows for the neighborhood kids, charging them a penny to attend. Bob attended Dorsey High School and was active in their drama productions. During WWII, Bob was a weatherman in the 10th Weather Squadron, 14th Air Force (the "Flying Tigers") in Kunming, China. He was later reassigned to organize the mail for all the units in the China-Burma-India theatre. His first acting "job" was in an Area Entertainment Guild production of "Room Service" for the troops. Returning to L.A. after the war, Bob attended the Pasadena Playhouse, then also a school of theatre arts, and graduated in 1949. He then went on to be one of the founding members of the Orchard Gables Repertory Theatre Company at the corner of Fountain and Wilcox in Hollywood. Wanting to manage his own theatre, he purchased property in 1955 and built his own 90-seat theatre with seating "in-the-round." In January of 1956, Bob opened the Horseshoe Stage Theatre on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood where he produced, directed, and starred in plays for many years. The theatre is now known as the Zephyr Theatre. When not working as an actor or teaching students, Bob could be found traveling in his motorhome, searching for the perfect fishing spot! After living with some mobility challenges for a couple of years, Bob passed away peacefully February 12, 2016, surrounded by his two sons and their family.

Bo Sabato as Policeman: Bo Sabato is known for Beaches (1988), Nothing in Common (1986) and Quantum Leap (1989).

Say What?
The date of the episode is August 19, 1963. A headline on the Philadelphia Guardian  reads "Bangladesh Calls for More Flood Aid for Its Homeless" Bangladesh did not exist as a country until 1971. In 1963 it would have been called East Pakistan. Even if the region had been known in some quarters as Bangladesh, an American newspaper in 1963 would not have used that term. Closest it may have come would be the defunct (as of 1955) East Bengal, though that would have been unlikely. 

There are no palm trees in Philadelphia, although some can be seen near the cemetary.

After Sam pulls the plug on the jukebox, some of the bar patrons are still dancing in the background.

The Irish priest seems to bless himself with his left hand when he and Sam turn to leave the altar. From behind you see his arm moving, and it's his left. This would be very unusual indeed in a Catholic church! 

The actors stay remarkably dry during the storm when going down the tracks.

Al has lost his faith for many years it seems, however in "The Right Hand of God", he doesn't seem to have any issues.

Quotable Quotes:

Moncelli sister (#1): "Good priest always introduces the newly-weds."
Sam: "I just figured that everybody knew 'em..."

Al: "We're running out of track here, Sam."

Sam: "One day at a time."

Where'd you learn to use your feet like that?
Old Chinese movies?
-- Father Mac and Sam, "Leap of Faith"

I wanted to talk to you but I could wait outside until you finished talking to yourself.
-- Joey, "Leap of Faith"

Just forgive everybody and don't talk too much.
-- Al, "Leap of Faith"

Isn't it a little past your bedtime?
Not if I can't find my bed.
-- Al and Sam, "Leap of Faith"

We all wonder sometimes if we're doing the right thing.  I guess all you can do is just believe that you'll make a difference in the long run.
Do you think you will?
Well, I wouldn't be here if I didn't.
-- Sam and Father Mac, "Leap of Faith"

Well, ladies, it was nice meeting you.
Meet us?
We come to Mass every day!
I mean meeting you again. It was nice to meet you both- again.
-- Sam and the Monticelli sisters, "Leap of Faith"

Best Line:

Father McRoberts: "At least you're Italian. They consider being Irish a birth defect."

Best Scene:

After Sam falls out of the confession booth, and we see Al pray for Sam. Also, Sam's asking for "Al", which happens to be the name one of the on-lookers as well. It's a great insight to Al's character and his beliefs.

Production Credits:

Theme by: Mike Post
Music by: Velton Ray Bunch
Co-Executive Producer: Deborah Pratt
Co-Executive Producer: Michael Zinberg
Supervising Producers: Harker Wade, Robert Wolterstorff
Co-producers: Paul  Brown, Jeff Gourson
Produced by: Chris Ruppenthal
Created by: Donald P. Bellisario
Teleplay by: Tommy Thompson
Story by:
Nick Harding & Karen Hall and Tommy Thompson
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.

Executive Producer: Donald P. Bellisario
Associate Producer: 
James S. Giritlian
Executive Story Editor: Tommy Thompson

Director of Photography: Michael Watkins
Production Designer: Cameron Birnie
Edited by: Robert E. Pew, Jerry Temple
Unit Production Manager: Ron Grow
First Assistant Director: Ryan Gordon
Second Assistant Director: Rob Mendel
Casting by: Ellen Lubin Sanitsky
Set Director: Robert L. Zilliox
Costume Designer: Jean-Pierre Dorleac
Costume Supervisors: David Rawley & Donna Roberts-Orme
Sound Mixer: Jim La Rue
Stunt Coordinator: Diamond Farnsworth
Sound Editor: Paul Clay
Music Editor: Donald Woods

Panaflex   Camera and Lenses by: Panavision

This motion picture is protected under laws of the United States and other countries. Unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Copyright 1990 by Universal City Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Bellisarius Productions and Universal, an MCA Company


In the thirty-third installment of The Quantum Leap Podcast, Albie and Heather discuss season three, episode three “Leap Of Faith”. There are first impressions, an episode recap, thoughts and opinions, listener feedback, and a great interview with Bud Sabatino, who played Sam’s leapee, Father Frank Pistano.  Also, two great segments from Christopher DeFilippis, The Italian Problem, and Quantum Leap Radio Sightings: Genesis Redux. Also an article from Hayden McQueenie about Al, and religion in Quantum Leap. And an awesome song, I Always Feel Like (I’m Gonna Quantum Leap) – Rockwell Parody by Bonecage. 

00:00:00 – QLP opening
00:03:06 – Hello – First impressions
00:06:48 – Episode recap
00:18:01 – Main discussion/Episode breakdown
01:16:48 – Interview with Bud Sabatino
01:39:23 – Promo for Thinking Outside The Long Box
01:40:16 – Promo for Back To The Future: The Animated Series Podcast
01:41:44 – Promo for The Quantum Leap Podcast Short Fiction Contest
01:43:06 – Clip from the Tommy Thompson Interview about LOF
01:45:46 – Christopher DeFilippis The Italian Problem
01:52:19 – Feedback
02:09:48 – Hayden McQueenie
02:17:44 – I Always Feel Like by Bonecage
02:20:53 – News – robhasawebsite.com
02:24:29 – Trivia
02:26:49 – Quantum Leap Radio Sightings: Genesis Redux
02:29:33 – On the next episode
02:31:54 – Credits

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