Mark Wahlberg is very up front about his Christian faith. Despite his tough-guy image and a past that would make Russell Brand blush, Wahlberg almost redefines the words 'practising Catholic' with his commitment to church attendance and daily prayer. In interviews he's always quick not only to talk about the God from whom he draws strength, but also to explain how it drives his daily life.
Sent to prison at 16 for a violent assault, Wahlberg's early life in Boston also included various drug addictions and around 20 other run-ins with the law. Yet in his late teens the actor turned for guidance to his parish priest, Father Jim Flavin, and began to turn his life around. Now a devoted family man with four children, Wahlberg still sees Flavin as a mentor and spiritual director, but according to the actor, his most important relationship of all is with the almighty...
On the central role of God in his life...
"[My faith is] the most important part of my life. I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be. I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith."
From an interview with Square Mile magazine.
On his extraordinary commitment to daily prayer...
Wahlberg: "I don't go to Mass necessarily every day, but I definitely go to the church every day. That's how I start my day. I like to get in there for about 15 to 20 minutes. Say my prayers."
Interviewer: "What does it bring you?"
Wahlberg: "A very clear focus on what's important, expressing my gratitude for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, and a reminder every day of what I need to do, of what I need to focus on, and what I need to stay away from."
Interviewer: "When you pray, what do you pray for?
Wahlberg: "I pray to be a good servant to God, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a brother and uncle, a good neighbor, a good leader to those that look up to me, and a good follower to those that serve God and doing the right thing, and people that I can look up to and try to emulate."
From a CNN interview with Piers Morgan.
On why his faith is about more than film success...
"Once I focused on my faith wonderful things started happening for me. And I don't mean professionally – that's not what it's about. These days, I'll be in church and people will come up to me and say: 'Do you mind if I sit and pray with you?' And they'll start praying and it'll turn out they're praying for their new movie to be a success or whatever, and I'm like, this is not what I come here for. For me to sit down and ask for material things is ridiculous. It's a much bigger picture than that. I want to serve God and to be a good human being and to make up for the mistakes I made and the pain I put people through. That's what I'm praying for, and I recommend it to anybody."
From an interview with The Catholic Herald.
On family Sundays and being a church 'twicer'...
"[On Sundays] If the kids are good, I'll have doughnuts for them at 6:30 in the morning, and I'll say, "You guys gotta let Mommy sleep in!" I'll go to church at 7:30 and everybody will be eating breakfast when I come home. Then we'll go to church again at 10:30, if things aren't too hectic. Or if one of the kids has a game we'll watch them play. It's a nice family day."
From an interview with Parade magazine.
On keeping the faith...
"Anything that's good in my life is because of my faith. A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don't need God anymore, they're gone. But I spend a good portion of my day thanking God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. If it all ended today, I'd be happy. I've had such an amazing journey."
From a Q+A in Time magazine.
Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. He's also one of the hosts of the Youth Work Summit on June 20. You can follow him on Twitter: @martinsaunders