By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published April 12, 2022
ATLANTA–We are all human. And despite our goals of perfection, we inevitably at times come up short. But what makes God so wonderful is that he will forgive us and give us another opportunity to make things right and get back on track.
That compassion and love is evident in the biographical movie “Father Stu,” which tells the story of Father Stuart Long, a priest who used his second chance at life to serve others.
A strong man with a powerful physique, Long was an athlete with a passion for wrestling. He competed professionally, but his career ended after suffering an injury.
After moving to California to pursue an acting career, he was in a motorcycle accident that nearly took his life. Following his recovery and believing his life meant something more, he decided to become a priest.
While in seminary, Long was diagnosed with an incurable muscular disorder. Despite his physical challenges, Father Long was later ordained and lived his vocation, serving others until his death in 2014.
Father Long’s story brings to life the phrase, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
Mark Wahlberg, who plays Father Long in the movie, portrays him as a man of grit and power. Born into humble beginnings, he was tough and worked hard, but also harbored anger for some of his difficulties. He was charismatic, but also battled internal struggles. So, when Long shares that he wants to become a priest, many are shocked and perplexed.
But as we know, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
When God called Moses to led the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses didn’t feel “qualified” for the job. He didn’t believe he could convince the Egyptians of anything. But Moses was God’s choice, making him the right person for the job.
“Father Stu” reminds us that God’s qualifications are all you need for the position. Whatever God is calling you to do is possible. All he needs is your obedience, your “yes” and willingness to move forward.
Even though we tend to assume it, answering God’s call for our lives doesn’t come without challenges. Father Long was an example of this, being diagnosed with a physical disorder while in seminary. But he remembered God’s call and continued to move forward.
As Wahlberg said in the film, “We shouldn’t pray for an easy life, but the strength to endure a difficult one.”
This film reminds us that God can use all of us for good if we’re willing to say “yes” to him. No matter where we’re from, our talents, skills or physical limitations, all of us have everything we need to answer God’s call for our lives.
“Father Stu” is exclusively in theaters April 13.
Read the Catholic News Service review of “Father Stu” in the April 14 print edition of The Georgia Bulletin.