Edward Beck is not your average priest. He once worked on Wall Street. He produces and hosts a television show called The Sunday Mass, and he is the faith and religion contributor on CNN. In the fall, when the Pope visits the U.S., Mr. Beck will be covering the event. He has also written three nonfiction books, and four years ago he wrote the first draft of a play called Sweetened Water. The play premieres this weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, which is appropriate as the seeds of the story were sown on the Island.

Years ago, through friends, Mr. Beck found out about a room on the Island to rent. Mr. Beck’s mother had just passed away from lung cancer and he was in need of a retreat. As it turned out, the woman whose house it was had just lost her husband to lung cancer. The two talked quite a bit during that stay, and Mr. Beck began to consider it as a topic for a play. He began with the facts, a priest moves into the house of a recently widowed woman, and then let the creative process take over.

Sweetened Water tells the story of two individuals, one of whom is a priest, coping with loss. Their tragedies bind them together in unexpected ways. Mr. Beck said the play is mostly about the priest, Richard, who is trying to reconcile his religious practice and his everyday life.

“You don’t have to be a priest to experience what he experiences,” Mr. Beck said. People will relate to both Richard’s struggles and the answers he searches for.

Mr. Beck began his career on Wall Street, but quickly became dissatisfied. He wanted to regain the sense of self-awareness he had felt during high school retreats. He went on a retreat again, felt at peace, and decided to make faith his career. He lives in New York city and preaches at the Passionists Church. He has also been doing retreats on Martha’s Vineyard for 20 summers. Recently, he preached at the Tabernacle and conducted a retreat at St. Elizabeth’s Church consisting of three evenings of preaching, prayer, and reflection.

“The most rewarding part of being a priest is being able to walk with people at the most significant parts of their lives,” Mr. Beck said.

MJ Bruder Munafo, the executive and artistic director of the playhouse, is directing Sweetened Water. She and Mr. Beck have continued to nurture the creative process for this five-person play throughout rehearsals. The actors are Chris Kipiniak, Joyce Cohen, Cristi Andrews, Danielle Slavick and Mark Krawczyk.

Mr. Kipiniak is looking forward to playing the priest, he said.

“The examination of faith from a priest’s perspective is exciting to learn about,” Mr. Kipiniak said.

And in Mr. Beck’s hands, faith is not a black and white issue. Instead shades of gray lead the way in this exploration of grief, sexuality and intimacy. Richard struggles with issues of death and celibacy and wonders, “Who’s going to be there when I die?”

Mr. Beck admits the play is a risky one as the issues could be considered controversial. “Some people don’t like looking at realism if it comes from someone whom they perhaps prefer be less realistic,” Mr. Beck said. “It’s not all clear and clean cut.”

Sweetened Water begins at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse with previews on Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, August 25, and shows will continue Tuesdays through Saturdays through Sept. 12. Visit vineyardplayhouse.org for tickets and more information.