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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Calling

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

In "The Calling" (Pleasant Avenue), filmmaker David Ranghelli focuses on the struggles involved in responding to a religious vocation. This absorbing documentary follows a young male novice and a mother superior, both of whom belong to a small community called the Family of Jesus the Healer.

Ranghelli turns his camera on this recently established, traditionally inclined group of priests, brothers and sisters at an interesting moment, just as their founder, Father Philip Scott, announces his prayer-based decision to relocate them from Tampa, Fla., to Peru to serve that country's poor.

For Tampa native Orlando Castillo, a young man from a prosperous background who wishes to "live simply," and who seeks spiritual formation from Father Scott as he discerns a vocation to the priesthood, this move adds a further strain to an already difficult situation. As frank interviews with them show, Castillo's parents—his father in particular—have serious reservations about the life their son is embracing.

The Castillos are especially uncomfortable with the physical and emotional distance from them that Orlando's membership in the community entails. Not only does he join in the move to a dusty, poverty-plagued village on the outskirts of Lima, but the rules of his postulancy, as established by Father Scott, allow him to write letters to his family, but not to call or e-mail them.

Also feeling the strain of separation is Mother Mary-Elizabeth, the parent of two grown daughters who entered religious life after the annulment of her marriage. Although she is Father Scott's closest collaborator in supervising the life of the Family of Jesus the Healer, she finds the increased isolation from her children and grandchildren difficult to accept, and her daughters are vocal in expressing their aggrieved sense of loss.

Insightful and probing, the narrative is also marked by some humorous moments, as when Orlando announces that it was after seeing the film "Spider-Man" that he was determined to become a priest. Why? Because, like Spider-Man, priests have superpowers: They can say Mass and hear confessions. And, like the web-shooting hero and protector of the innocent, a priest's mission doesn't allow for having a girlfriend.

An emotional highpoint comes with the liturgy at which Orlando makes his preliminary vows and dons the community's habit for the first time. Amid tears and obviously conflicted feelings, Orlando's father silently surrenders his son to God and to his newfound spiritual relatives.

As that scene demonstrates, Ranghelli's moving study of sacred aspirations and of the courageous commitment required to fulfill them is all the more effective for not glossing over the interior cost a generous answer to God's summons can sometimes exact. While the ultimate decisions made by the people he chronicles vary, this remains both an uplifting story for a general audience and an excellent tool for realistic vocations work.

The film contains a brief discussion regarding chastity. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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