//The Priest as God’s Suffering Servant

The Priest as God’s Suffering Servant

“Father Stu” is the story of a beloved priest from Montana (USA), who served in the city of Helena for seven years before he died. The movie charts his journey from self-destruction to redemption through suffering.

When a serious motorcycle accident cuts short his boxing career, and leaves him pulverized with IBM — “inclusion body myositis” — a degenerative disease, Stu Long realizes to his surprise, that he’s meant to be a Catholic priest.

It’s a fundamental idea in Catholicism that Christ redeemed us through his suffering and death, and in a mysterious way our suffering, united to his, can be redemptive. That’s what Bishop Thomas remembered of this unusual candidate: it was because of Stu’s sufferings — and not despite them — that he ordained Stuart Long a priest.

The Catholic priesthood has long fascinated popular cinema, and not just because of its celibacy. Suffering, it turns out, would become the defining quality of Father Stu’s life, and the measure of his priesthood. We watch, fascinated and humbled.

But Bishop Thomas of Helena believed that suffering is a gift in the Christian life — a gift Stu had received in abundance.

Bishop Thomas said God kept reminding him, over and over, that a priest is ordained to be like Christ, the Suffering Servant who hung on a cross.

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Father Stu produced by Mark Wahlberg, directed by Rosalind Ross, with Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver, Tereza Ruiz et al. [Columbia distrb. 2022]

The author lives at Campion School, Colaba, Mumbai, where he is writer-in-residence.