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The surprise behind Fr. Stu’s swearing


Photo Courtesy of the Long Family | Diocese of Helena

Cerith Gardiner - published on 04/18/22

A close friend of the now-famous priest reveals something about his expletives post-conversion.

The movie Father Stu has been making the headlines for many reasons — one of them being its rather colorful language.

The movie has been R-rated for the many expletives that crop up throughout the incredible story of redemption, as well as for some adult content. Whilesome people have not been overly bothered by the use of foul language, others, understandably, have found all the profanity too much — and even a deterrent from watching the film.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to include so many cuss words, the conversation has resulted in some very interesting information offered by one of Fr. Stu’s close friends, Marguerite Zink.

In a thread of comments on the Aleteia Facebook page, people were discussing whether there was a need for such language, and Zink added her thoughts, revealing a little more about the man known for his straight-talk. She says:

“The profanity was not superfluous, it is a true part of who Fr. Stu had been before his conversion. He actually had a swear jar in his nursing home room for his visitors to contribute to when they swore as he did not swear after his conversion. Do not be afraid of other people’s words. The language is not a reason to not see this beautiful movie. Life can [be] and is gritty, be not afraid.”

Perhaps one reason it’s been a contentious issue is that people don’t expect swearing in a faith-based movie. However, Mark Wahlberg, who played Fr. Stu and financed the project, believed it was important to reflect the true nature of the man, and to show just how much he changed after his spiritual transformation — all of which echoes Zink’s thoughts.

Wahlberg gave an interview with Zink’s daughter, Alex, and her co-host, Maddie, for their podcast for young people in Montana. (The pair also chat with Stu’s close friend, Fr. Bart Tolleson, and it’s definitely worth a listen.)

In the interview, Wahlberg talks a little more about the film’s colorful language. If you thought there was a lot of swearing in the movie, here’s a little perspective: Wahlberg actually cut “74 F-bombs.” Yep, it’s pretty difficult to imagine that there could have been many more!

The actor also shared that the archbishop who ordained Stu was “very upset initially with the language, as were a lot of people. I got a lot of push back from the archdiocese about the language and they wouldn’t let us shoot in the church because there were two F-bombs in the two first pages … ”

However, the archbishop was happy for Wahlberg to share his following comment:

“It’s encouraging that Mark Wahlberg’s passion to make this film is coming to fruition, and we appreciate the thoughtful and diligent work of the production team. Fr. Stu Long’s dramatic conversion to Christ before becoming a priest led many people to Christ and the Catholic faith. His courageous witness left a special legacy in the diocese of Helena …”

“Viewers should be warned that the film contains objectionable language, violence and adult content. However, it is our hope that the redemptive story of Fr. Stu’s conversion will invite viewers to faith and to strengthen believers.”

And this is exactly what we can take away from the story. The moment Stu converted, he was able to abandon a lifetime habit of expressing himself through coarse language. And he was able to invite others to do the same. If that can happen to Stu, it gives us hope that we, too, can find redemption.

Catholic LifestyleChristian MoviesFaith
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