What are the chances that a boxer with criminal records would become a committed and effective Catholic priest? Perhaps they’re not high, but that’s exactly what happened in the case of Father Stuart Long, whose life story has been adapted into the film “Father Stu.”
“Stu was a guy always looking for his calling,”Mark Wahlberg plays the title role and is passionate about the character.
Wahlberg’s own priest was the first to tell him Long’s story.
“He told me the story and I’m like, oh my God, I have to make this movie,”Wahlberg said Inside Edition
Long was raised in Montana. He played football high school and college. Long also became an amateur boxer, and tried his hand as an actor. He had a few problems with the law and his drinking. But he eventually found God.
“When he stumbled on his faith, it’s remarkable how gravitated to it and how unwavering he was throughout,”Wahlberg spoke.
Long’s religious revelation came after he almost lost his life in a motorcycle accident. Surviving what many believed he wouldn’t Long came our with a new lease in life and a determination to join the clergy.
“He was struck by a car, then run over by another. This close brush with death was a turning point in Stu’s life, prompting an exploration of religious faith that ultimately led to his baptism as a Roman Catholic so that he could marry the beautiful young lady he loved. God had other plans!” Long’s obituary read.
The movie shows his disbelief when his mother learned of his desire to become a priest. “I’m gonna be a priest,” Wahlberg’s Long tells his mother. “For Halloween?”She replies.
But Long’s unconventional path to the priesthood may have been one of his biggest assets.
“He had a profound effect on people,”Wahlberg spoke. “Because of his authentic approach.”
Preparing for the role was difficult. To do so, Wahlberg put on 30 pounds.
“A dozen eggs, dozen pieces of bacon, white rice, porterhouse steak,”He spoke of the diet he had followed to become Father Stu. “It was not fun.”
Long died of a degenerative muscle disease in 2014. He was priest for only four years, but was remembered for bringing “a servant’s heart to each and every minute of his ministry, his love increasing in power as physical strength declined,” Read his obituary.
“Father Stu became a beloved priest, confessor and friend to countless people. He taught by example, willingly accepting the pain and weakness each day brought; Stu said it was the best thing that ever happened to him, because it allowed him to shed the pride he had felt for most of his life,”His obituary was continued. “Father Stu will be missed, but his legacy of love and selflessness lives on in the hearts and minds of all he served.”
Wahlberg also shared these sentiments and told Inside Edition “The impact that he had in the short amount of time that he served as a priest was remarkable to me.”