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Priest who gave Wahlberg and Roumie ashes talks Lent

Whalberg and Roumie with Fr. Mark-Mary Ames

Courtesy of Fr. Mark-Mary Ames

J-P Mauro - published on 02/16/24

Before they appeared on 'Fox & Friends,' Mark Wahlberg and Jonathan Roumie received ashes from Fr. Mark-Mary Ames, Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, author, and YouTuber.

This Lent, Mark Wahlberg and Jonathan Roumie are working with Hallow, the #1 prayer app, to keep people praying all the way until Easter, guided by the voices of these two prominent Catholics. To promote the app, the pair appeared on Fox & Friends with ashes on their foreheads on the morning of Ash Wednesday. They held a brief interview before the host read one of Hallow’s reflections, and Roumie closed the show with a prayer. 

For a short interview, they covered a lot of ground, from the various prayer offerings of Hallow to Mark Wahlberg’s rigid workout schedule that has him in bed by 7:30 p.m. and up in the morning by 3 a.m. It was a light-hearted conversation in which these two humble men talked about their faith and lives. Although they are world renowned actors, they seem so down-to-earth. 

At one point, while promoting the feature of the Hallow app that allows users to select a voice to read the prayers and reflections, Wahlberg noted that he enjoyed Roumie’s voice. The Father Stu actor recalled how the pair had attended Mass together prior to appearing on Fox & Friends, at which Roumie was lector for the second reading. Wahlberg remarked: 

“I must say, though, we had Mass this morning and Jonathan did the second reading and I was just listening to his voice and it was just … it was different. So soothing.” 

The Mass these celebrities attended, where they received their ashes, was a small affair celebrated by a priest who is something of a YouTube celebrity himself, Fr. Mark-Mary Ames. This Franciscan Friar of the Renewal is an author of Catholic literature and creator of introspective videos on the YouTube channel of Ascension Presents, producers of Bible in a Year and Catechism in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz

After Wahlberg and Roumie received their ashes, they shot a short video for Instagram in which they encouraged folks to go get ashes, all the while holding Fr. Mark-Mary’s latest book, The Father: 30 Meditations to Draw You Into the Heart of God

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mark Wahlberg (@markwahlberg)

Fr. Mark-Mary was kind enough to answer some of Aleteia’s questions about his latest book, as well as what it was like to hold a private Mass with Roumie and Wahlberg:

What was it like interacting with two high profile Catholic celebrities?

Fr. Mark-Mary: I’m not going to say it’s not cool. It is cool. I love new experiences and meeting new people, especially people with interesting life experiences, like an actor, but also someone who can explain to me how the water table works or how bridges are built.  I get excited by all of it.

Then there’s the reality that people are people. There’s a moment where it’s surreal: “You’re that guy I know from the screen,” but pretty quickly we’re just people interacting as people.

Also, I hope to never live life unaware of how profoundly beyond my dignity it is to be a priest who holds the God of the universe in his hands and who is known by Him by name. That’s awesome in the fullest sense of the word.

How do the meditations in ‘The Father’ fit into Lent? 

Fr. Mark-Mary: As Jesus’ own 40-day journey into the desert shows us, the Lenten journey is really a journey of identity. He goes straight from his baptism at the Jordan river to the desert. It’s the place for us to concretely experience God’s Fatherhood and our dignity as his beloved sons and daughters. The Father is at the service of helping the reader understand and receive the fullness of what it means for God to be Father, and as a fruit of that, to receive the grace they need to come out of hiding and be perfectly seen and loved by Him.

What is your secret for getting the ashes so dark and long lasting?

Fr. Mark-Mary: Full transparency. I think the priest is a little more intentional when he knows the ashes are going to be seen (and judged) by a million people or so on TV. Also, you can take a little more time when you’re only distributing ashes to 10 people and not to a church filled with a couple hundred.

Those interested in reading Fr. Mark-Mary Ames’ new book, The Father: 30 Meditations to Draw You Into the Heart of God, can find more information at Ascension Press. They can also get a sense of Fr. Mark-Mary’s style of Catholic thought from his wonderful video series, with his most recent installment featured below.

Be sure to follow Ascension Presents to see more of Fr. Mark-Mary’s videos. 

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