A new film based on a true-to-life character who overcame a rough-and-tumble life to become a Catholic priest was released this year during Holy Week. Father Stu centers around the life of a young man from Montana named Stuart Long, who becomes a Catholic priest after a faltering career as a boxer.
Long is played by Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg. Mel Gibson plays Long’s father—a troubled and bitter man who rejected God for failing to save the life of his other son.
Described as “deeply moving” though “hard-edged” in a review by the Catholic News Service (CNS), the film is about the power of religious faith to turn people’s lives around.
Wahlberg’s character moves to Los Angeles in the 1990s in hope of becoming an actor. Disillusioned by Hollywood and forced to work as a grocery store clerk to make ends meet, he sets out to explore religion after a near-death experience on a motorcycle.
Falling in love with a Mexican woman, Long converts to Catholicism to marry her but while being baptized, he experiences an overpowering call to ordination that eventually leads him to the priesthood.
The film is a passion project for devout Catholics Wahlberg and Gibson.
In its review of the film, the National Review states that “Stuart, like the actor who portrays him, opened himself to Christ, and both men’s sincerity, humility, and devotion radiate from Father Stu, a stirring depiction of faith’s journey.”
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
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