Leo Severino is a young lawyer who has served as a parish youth minister and worked at Fox in the entertainment industry. Now he is the founder, along with Eduardo Verastegui, of Metanoiafilms. They have just completed their first feature film as a production company called Bella.
Leo has been presenting a weekly series of talks called Going Deeper for young people in Hollywood. Going Deeper is designed to assist people who are looking for the truth, first through human reason and then through revealed faith in scripture, tradition and the Leadership of the Church. While intended to assist people who are thinking about joining the Catholic Church, Going Deeper is also very helpful to cradle Catholics who wish to get to know their faith better. For several months now Going Deeper has been a weekly staple at Family Theater at 8 PM on Wednesday nights. It is open to the public and is very well attended. Family Theater is located at 7201 Sunset Blvd. Hollywoood, CA. 90046.
In addition to Going Deeper, Matthew Malek, a young man from Detroit who studied in the seminary for the Archdiocese of Detroit in that city and in Rome, is presenting an eight part series on the radical and beautiful teachings of Pope John Paul II called collectively The Theology of the Body. Matthew has a energetic and passionate love for his subject. The late Holy Father devoted the first four years of his Wednesday General Audiences
to the presentation of a comprehensive view of human sexuality. An emerging generation of Catholics takes this cahllenging and beautiful teaching seriously and Matthew is one of a number of people who are able to make this subject come alive in healthy ways.
The Theology of the Body takes place at 8 PM on Tuesday nights at Family theater.
These are two of a number of programs and events for young Catholics in Hollywood that are rooted in prayer and a deepening knowledge of one's faith. Saint Victor's Church on Holloway in West Hollywood sponsors a weekly Holy Hour at 8 PM on Fridays along with confession and Reconciliation.
Family Theater sponsors a monthly open house for young Catholics in Hollywood called Prayer and Pasta.
The Family Theater events are usually preceded or followed by one of a variety of prayers available in the Catholic Church: Eucharist, Rosary, Benediction, Meditation, Stations of the Cross, etc.
Something quite novel is happening in Hollywood among Catholics. It is exciting to be a part of it and makes it very easy to hope that Hollywood might become a place where God is welcome and his disciples are too. Of course there have long been Catholics in Hollywood and many have been very generous in collaborating with Family Theater over the last 60 years. More than five hundred A-list actors have participated in Family Theater productions over the years, Grace Keely, Bing Crosby, James Dean, Loretta Young and Jimmy Stewart are just a few. Paulist productions has also been the beneficiary of many good men and women stepping forward to help.
In recent years it is clear that there is a new ethos in Hollywood among young Catholics who are not squeamish about letting it be known that they are people of faith trying to live that faith with integrity and fidelity. Jim Caviezel is one of the better known Catholics of this generation. They love getting together to pray often in devout and traditional forms of mainline Catholic worship such as the Eucharist, Benediction, the Rosary. It is common to find fifty or sixty young Catholics and their friends gathered for a holy hour on Friday night at Saint Victor's in West Hollywood. Saint Victor's parish welcomes them and is very accommodating.
A concluding few comments:
- I have the very strong belief, shared by many others here in Hollywood, that there is no greater force for good on this earth than the power of prayer, especially communal prayer. Obviously, the source and summit of all Christian prayer for Catholics is the Eucharist. This is the pearl of great price and the source of strength we need for any worthwhile enterprise. Many young Catholics in Hollywood share the Eucharist daily. They and others also pray the Rosary and the Litrugy of the hours.
- With that in mind, I believe that Hollywood will undergo a profound transformation if Catholics, other Christians, Jews and other people of good will pray for the hand of Providence to guide them and Hollywood. And, as the Gospels remind us, pray without ceasing.
- It seems to me that Catholics, with two millennia of experience in prayer and asceticism, with a rich mystical tradition, with centuries of loving God and neighbor in distinctive works of charity, with generations of extraordinary commitment to educating the heart and the mind of the young, with decades and decades of patronizing the arts and artists, with so much experience in preserving the best of civilization through beacons of light and faith called monasteries,in very dark ages; it seems to me that this great Catholic Church is especially well-equipped to begin laying the foundation for a profound transformation in Hollywood.
- Going Deeper, Theology of the Body, Prayer and Pasta, Saint Victor's Holy Hours, young people going to daily Eucharist, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, Praying the Rosary together, spending time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the quiet of the Church, visiting the imprisoned and the sick and the homeless and the troubled in mind and spirit. I am so heartened by what I see of young Catholics in Hollywood that I really do have hope that God is doing something new and powerful and it is exciting to be present to witness this unfolding before our eyes.
- As the Good Pope John Paul II so often said, "Be not afraid." "Be not afraid of new technology in the media of communications, be not afraid of the criticism of the world for our Savior has said, 'I have conquered the world.'"
Peace and may you know that you are in our prayers. May I ask the same from you.
Fr. Willy Raymond, CSC.