In an interview with Gabrielle Donnelly, published on Christmas Eve 2010 in the Catholic Herald, Mark Wahlberg said: “being a Catholic is the most important aspect of my life.” It might sound like an exceptional thing to be found in Beverly Hills, the dog-eat-dog-ish Mecca of competition, but to Wahlberg, that’s only natural: an early conversion, when he was 16 years old and had already hit rock bottom, set him not on the path to success (which Wahlberg is far from considering the most important thing in his life) but on the one that might lead him towards “[being] a good human being and [making] up for the mistakes I made and the pain I put people through.”
As he grew up, Wahlberg was, as Donnelly described him, a “troubled young man,” to say the least. The youngest of nine brothers, he dropped out of high-school, became a gang member, got addicted to drugs and would always be in trouble with the police. Until he ended up in jail. And that precise event would set “the beginning of the rest of his life.”
In his interview with Donnelly, Wahlberg explained:
“There’s nothing scarier than being 16 years old, hearing the jail house door close behind you, and knowing that you’re not going to leave. I’d brought it on myself. A lot of bad things happened to me when I was young, and I did a lot of bad things too. I was too cool for school, I’d made my mistakes and I was paying for them. I’d lost sight of my religion. My parents were Catholic but not devoutly so, and once I’d started venturing out on to the street that wasn’t important to me at all. But, of course, once you get into trouble, you start praying! ‘Oh, my God, just get me out of here, and I swear I’ll never do it again!’ Well, I did get out of jail, and I did make sure I never went back there. The recidivism rate for people going back for jail sentences is through the roof, but not me. I did not want to be another statistic. I wanted to live my life instead.”
He got the help he needed from his parish priest, Father Falvin, whom he visited as soon as he left the house of correction he was in, and who aided him in his transition from high-school-dropout-ex-con into… well, into the Wahlberg we know.
“Once I focused on my faith,” Wahlberg told Donnelly, “wonderful things started happening for me […] And I don’t mean professionally – that’s not what it’s about. These days, I’ll be in church and people will come up to me and say: ‘Do you mind if I sit and pray with you?’ And they’ll start praying and it’ll turn out they’re praying for their new movie to be a success or whatever, and I’m like, this is not what I come here for. For me to sit down and ask for material things is ridiculous. It’s a much bigger picture than that. I want to serve God and to be a good human being and to make up for the mistakes I made and the pain I put people through. That’s what I’m praying for, and I recommend it to anybody.”
If you want to read the whole interview (which we encourage you to do), click here.