(Catholic Weekly (Australia)) Star of the big screen Mark Wahlberg is a man who has used his faith to help forge a new path. The prolific actor grew up in Bostonâ€™s crime-ridden Dorchester neighbourhood but has risen up from the streets and created a style and brand that can only be respected.
Looking back, Wahlberg enjoyed public exposure, of sorts, as a 12-year-old, when breakdancing in the streets. One of nine children, the youngster joined his brother Donnieâ€™s band New Kids On The Block as an original member, but ditched the act before the group achieved global recognition.
The 42-year-old, who came to fame as rapper Marky Mark, had multiple brushes with the law in his youth, and had developed an addiction to cocaine by his early teens.
Wind forward, and things are very different. A hugely successful career in film, a rapper, producer and model, Wahlberg has packed away the demons of old and boasts a growing family, with his Catholic faith acting as a pivotal force in reshaping what had threatened to become a troubled adult life. â€œItâ€™s by the Grace of God I turned my life around,â€ he begins. â€œOne of the most important people who helped me in life was Fr James Flavin, my parish priest in Boston, who has been in my life since I was 13. He helped set me straight and I feel the greatest respect and debt to him. He married me and my wife and baptised all my children.â€
While his brother Donnie helped to get him involved in the release that was music, Wahlberg acknowledges that he predominantly drew on his faith to get to where he is today.
â€œReligion helped save me â€“ thereâ€™s no doubt in my mind. I overindulged for a period back in my teens and 20s. I got caught up in living the street life, or the big life, but I realised pretty quickly that I had to quit partying and get serious about where I was going.â€
Meeting his wife Rhea also played a significant role in helping to address the family values that come hand in hand with his religious attitudes.
â€œWhen I met Rhea, I felt I had to change things because I wanted it to work out between us,â€ he continues. â€œAnd when youâ€™re raising children, you want to be the best father possible. You want to make sure your kids grow up with respect for you and have a good grounding. You want to be a better man; you want to live a good and healthy life. Iâ€™m proud of the life Iâ€™ve built for them. I live for them.â€
Wahlberg goes to church whenever he can â€“ daily, if his schedule allows. [more]