Father Stu (2022) is a true story depiction of Stuart Long, a boxer who became a beloved Catholic priest after his conversion. His life story comes with struggles often from family, finances, and ambition. He was lead into the Catholic faith after meeting his girlfriend, but pursues to become a celibate priest instead after experiencing a terrible accident. The movie triumphs the hope of not giving up on one’s self especially in the pursuit of God’s mercy and grace.
The “cinematic” feel of this movie isn’t a memorable one. It’s not meant to be the Hollywood-magic blockbuster people expect when they go to the theaters. But it’s simply meant to tell the beautiful life story of “Father Stu” and the things we can learn from it. It’s basically a lesson oriented film for the purpose of inspiring others and bringing them closer to Christ. The movie is simple, sweet, and at times would have a bit of cheesy dialogues but holds true to the faith of Stuart Long.
Instead of looking into the cinematography, this review will focus on the spirituality the movie has keenly portrayed.
The desire to be all God’s
Stuart “Stu” Long, played by Mark Wahlberg, had ambitions of success for himself. Coming from a small town life, he wanted to become a famous actor after realizing his boxing career wasn’t going anywhere nor making enough money. His ambitions were great, but his desire to surrender his life to God is even more beautiful. Although it was unexpected and unplanned, as his family and girlfriend were negatively surprised with his decision to become a priest, the movie showed the blissful beauty of a faithful whose soul and essence for living has vaulted into God’s providence. The clarity and peace on an important life decision, the optimism and drive to fulfill it no matter the struggle, these were some of the riches Father Stu had.
Like the book of Job
The movie depicts the struggles of Stuart Long with similar themes to the story of Job. The Book of Job is about a faithful man who had everything good in life but lost them all via the cunning orchestrations of the Adversary, including his health. To discredit Job to God and to discredit God to Job. But the humility and repentance of Job fusing with God’s mercy and grace renews his life with God increasing his prosperity in the end.
When Stuart was now in the seminary to become a priest, it was also at this time that he was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a muscle disease that slowly and progressively weakens the muscles to the point that the person who has it becomes unable to perform ordinary activities and may require assistive devices to move. This disease became a hindrance to Stuart’s ordination as his superiors became worried about him not being able to physically implement the sacraments especially the consecration of the Eucharist in Holy Mass.
He contemplated on what seems to be God’s injustice to the righteous as his health deteriorated. He was mad at God but still trusting that his misery was part of God’s gift and plans with the purpose to draw him closer to Christ. His physical greatness which once made him win matches in a boxing ring was now gone. He couldn’t even perform simple tasks by himself.
But with what seems to be a dead end for his priestly goal, a way for it was given by God. His friends were able to petition for his ordination with the approval of the bishop from the Diocese of Helena in California. He was ordained a priest in Montana, receiving a new life from God where his riches is to be dispensed to the poor through the sacraments.
Christ’s priesthood fulfilled in Father Stu
The beauty of Christ fulfilling his priesthood through ordinary men like Father Stu is always inspiring. A crippled man doing God’s work and mercy through the sacraments tells us that it’s not the favorable circumstances that makes us victors of our story, rather it is always his grace.
The movie reminds us that’s there’s always something worth saving in us for God’s purpose.
Broken but complete
The movie shows us that a person who has confided himself to God can have a true sense of completeness despite the worldly brokenness. As Father Stu became progressively weaker, the more the Spirit worked in him. Giving him peace and a sense of purpose on very moment and strength he had left.
At the end, we are told that he died at the age of 50. He was ordained on December 2007 and died in 2014. He enjoyed about six years of priestly service to our Lord. His suffering were not in vain as many of those who knew him shared the same sentiments the he carried his cross gracefully, with and for Christ.