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Mark Wahlberg’s movie ‘Father Stu’ shines light on redemptive suffering


Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sarah Robsdottir - published on 02/22/22

Co-starring Mel Gibson, the film about a boxer-turned-priest debuts Easter Weekend.

For several years now, the buzz about Mark Wahlberg’s very personal “passion project” Father Stu has continued to grow. The actor partially funded, produced and stars in the movie about Father Stuart Long, a boxer-turned- priest from Helena, Montana. For anyone acquainted with the two men’s lives — Mark Wahlberg’s and Father Stu’s — the parallel theme of “bad boy finds redemption” is hard to miss. Mark Wahlberg sat down recently with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over to discuss the six-year-in-the-making film.

“It was a story and a message everyone needed to hear,” Wahlberg explained in the exclusive twenty-minute interview in which he talked about the “brutally honest” man who found his calling to the priesthood later in life after having a “religious experience” while almost dying in a motorcycle accident (no “spoilers” here; only what’s in the trailer). 

As the real-life story goes, Father Stu contracted a degenerative muscular disease upon entering the priesthood and died at the age of fifty in 2014. While his ministry was short-lived, he gained quite a following with his “tough-talking” homilies and his curt manner in the confessional, all details Wahlberg touched upon with Arroyo. He also discussed the impact Father Stu’s suffering had on him personally: 

“[His story] gives me so much hope…because death is inevitable. Sickness, all of those things are inevitable. We’re going to face those,” Wahlberg told Arroyo. “But how you face those things and how Stu is able to embrace those things. And as his physicality started to deteriorate, his spirituality just soared.” 

“It allowed him to get closer to God through his suffering,” he continued. “And it gave him the ability to share that with other people in a very honest way that was very relatable.”

Wahlberg also discussed the lack of interest he faced early on when pitching Father Stu to mainstream movie outlets. For this reason, he sought the intercession of Our Lady and Father Stu himself in order to bring this story to the masses. He also sought Mel Gibson’s advice, the actor who wound up playing Bill Long — Father Stu’s dad, as Gibson struggled in a similar way to produce the blockbuster hit The Passion of the Christ.

While the film has yet to be rated, eager fans will certainly be glad to finally have a chance to watch the Sony Pictures movie debuting Easter Weekend 2022. To learn more about Father Stu — the man and the movie — check out a complete written transcript of February 10th interview.

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