I never thought I'd see the day where my favorite Hollywood actor and my faith cross paths. This pleasant blend was the perfect cherry on top of my Holy Week. As like most of you, I strive to do something "Catholic" every night of Holy Week. So when my friends suggested we go see "Father Stu", I was over the moon.
Mark Wahlberg depicts Father Stuart Long, who was a priest of the Diocese of Helena. "Father Stu, as he was affectionately known, pursued careers in boxing, acting, teaching, and museum management before discerning the priesthood." [CNA]
This movie takes you through the struggles of growing up in a divorced household in "small town America." Stuart struggles to find his identity in life and falls trapped into toxic masculinity traits such as over drinking, aggression, and a dash of misogynism. His amateur boxing career only last as long as it does because his mother was supportive, at first.
When a series of injuries ends his career, Stuart takes his talents to California to pursue acting and reconnects with his father, perfectly portrayed by Mel Gibson. Until his big break, Stuart picks up a job in a deli and this is where the Spirit begins to move. Carmen, a young and beautiful Hispanic Catholic woman catches the eye of Stuart who will do anything to win her over, even being baptized.
Stuart and his growth in maturity and faith takes you through the next segments of the movie, Carmen falls for our witty protagonist and at this point you wouldn't even know this movie was about a priest.
A fatal car accident in where the doctors didn't even think Stuart would survive is final push for him to enter seminary, to the amazement and astonishment of Carmen and his mother. Stuart was convinced of it.
As Stuart goes through seminary and his inclusion body myositis diagnosis, we see the slow change of heart in the mans father. The suffering of this child of his as he pursues the priesthood is the motivational key to bring the father back to Helena and rekindles a love with Stuart's mother.
As we all know the story ends with his surprise ordination and slow death. This movie depicts an astounding faith journey, perseverance, and total reliance on God's plan for you. Being able to love God and his people while God takes away your life slowly is the internal struggle not all of us will have to have but Mark brought it out onto the big screen.
It doesn't feel anything like your standard faith film at all. It truly lets you in on the difficulties people have in their walk with God and how a strong prayer life and determination can truly let the Holy Spirit enkindle in you.
This movie is perfect for anyone 18+ years and should be watched around the globe. Apart from the extreme vulgarity and illusion to sexual content, this movie is exactly what American Catholics need out in the world and society today. Hollywood evangelizing, who would have thought.