Mark Wahlberg, who co-produced and stars in “Father Stu” — the true story of an agnostic boxer who became a priest, then died of a degenerative muscle disorder — hopes the film’s raw honesty leads to conversions and vocations to the priesthood.
His intention was “always to bring people to church, and hopefully people to the vocation of priesthood,” he said in an interview with Angelus.
His prayer is for the film to remind lost souls that “we are not forgetting about them, we are not giving up on them and that we are encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves. It is never too late to change if you are willing to do the work — and people will recognize that.”
Father Stu’s story of redemption partly parallels Wahlberg’s. Born outside of Boston in 1971, the youngest of nine children, his parents divorced when he was 11 and he dropped out of school at 14. An assault conviction at 16 led to 45 days in prison, where he resolved to turn his life around. He made more of a slow spiral than a U-turn.
His brother Donnie, a teen heartthrob with the band New Kids on the Block, helped him launch a rap career as Marky Mark, whose trademark was dancing in his underwear. In the mid-1990s, personal difficulties preceded his transition to acting. He was soon winning acclaim for nuanced performances, and his turn in Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed” earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in 2006.
Wahlberg’s journey of faith has long been a subtext to his professional transformation, but “Father Stu” has brought it to the fore.
“I have always been trying to figure out, ‘What am I supposed to do with all these wonderful blessings that have been bestowed upon me? How do I give back?’ ” he asked. He is now a family man, who has four children with his wife, Rhea Durham.
An important challenge came in a talk several years ago by Karen Kallay, Ph.D., the former principal of Ascension Catholic School in South LA. She asked, “Are you a participant in the community of the Church or are you a spectator?” Wahlberg recalled. Although he had always told himself that he kept a low profile in church to avoid distracting others, he realized that God wanted him to be more active.
He saw a need to make movies about redemption and mercy that were true to both the Christian faith and human experience.
“We need to speak to people in a way that they can understand and relate to,” he said. “I am now really committed to focusing on making more faith-based content, but that is relatable to people … in a raw and honest way.”
In this movie, “we want to really open people’s eyes and their hearts and their minds and fill them with nothing but love and positivity and optimism about the future, in the way that Father Stu really did.”
Wahlberg has made many iconic films, from “The Basketball Diaries” and “The Perfect Storm” to “The Departed,” but said he has never experienced anything like the reaction to early screenings of “Father Stu.” People from all walks of life have said they could identify with the priest in a deeply personal way.
Full story at Angelus News.
This film was given an “R” rating, for over 100 obscenities. A long time ago, when we had good, classic movies, and the Legion of Decency, there were some excellent films, well-written, with Catholic themes of struggles with sin and redemption, even films about the struggles with sin and eventual redemption, in the lives of wayward priests and prelates. And not one objectionable, profanity in the script. Very intelligent, well-written, excellent films.
Whatsmore, the Stu Long that I knew shortly before his baptism never came even remotely close to swearing — that I can recall.
Marguerite Zink, identified as a friend of his, said that he never cussed after his conversion and even kept a swear jar in his nursing home room for guests who did.
Maybe the movie will do what Wahlberg hopes. Still doesn’t interest me. What will bring people to the Church is when Mass is celebrated beautifully, reverently and solemnly, and when homilies are more substantial than the insipid things preached by clergy today. A movie by itself isn’t going to do it. The Church has to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Why can’t a redemption story be told without all the vulgarity? Here is a link to a good review.
Because real life isn’t a Hallmark movie.
Real Life– No. You need to read works and see films by really excellent, talented creative writers and screenwriters. Reality is not what you think.
I don’t trust a man who doesn’t use coarse language at least some of the time in private.
Real men do not use coarse language at all! Especially those who love Our Lord! This film is evil, it misrepresents the real Fr. Stuart Long. It is sensationalist, filthy, all for Hollywood money– just like the evil Roman Circus in ancient Rome.
Thanks, Peggy. Good writers who are well-educated and well-trained, never write low-class, trashy scripts, with profanity. They tell good stories in very excellent, intelligent, creative ways, with lots of grace, artistry, and nuance. This film sounds like ignorant, sensational, money-grabbing, low-class trash, from the dirty bookstore on the wrong side of the tracks. I tried to give you a thumbs up” but the thumbs do not seem to always work.
So would one appropriately placed F-word mean you would reject a movie? One view of a nipple means the movie is bad?
You need to go to Mass, receive instructions in the Faith, read the Bible and Catechism, pray, and be converted to Jesus Christ! Dirty movies and books are totally unacceptable. Especially in a Catholic home and family!
The F-word and a view of a nipple is NEVER necessary. Find another way to express what you mean.
I have not seen Father Stu. To be honest I have stopped seeing films ever since they snubbed the Passion of The Christ of any major Oscar awards. It was the best religious film Hollywood ever made done in Aramaic the language spoken at the time of the life of Jesus here on earth. The Passion of The Christ also had an “R” rating. It made close to a billion dollars. I can’t wait for the sequel which Mel Gibson has just announced. I plan to watch Father Stu after I get out of hospital. Any pal of Tom Brady is a pal of mine. Good luck with your film Mark Wahlberg.
Francisco, many good wishes to you for a speedy recovery, and keep up your great posts.
I just read about the scenes of Jesus appearing in this movie, speaking horrific obscenities– that is Satanic.
This movie is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Silent Observer than for your wonderful sentiments about my posts. I am also columnist for The Catholic Stand. It’s an online publication from Houston, Texas owned by Little Vatican Media. I hope California Catholic Daily News doesn’t mind me saying that on their site. In this titanic battle against the culture of death we need to all work together to defeat the enemy. Simply put the culture of death will lead to the death of a culture. Remember that every day that passes is one day closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Our Lord God and Savior. Till then Pray! Pray! Pray!
This movie has really “Stu’d” up a hornet’s nest.