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Mark Wahlberg on why, as a Hollywood A-lister, he won't deny his faith

"I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith."

mark wahlberg, faith in hollywood, catholicism

Actor Mark Wahlberg at the 'Contraband' Movie Premiere In Sydney, Australia

Hollywood isn’t a place where people typically talk about their faith. In a world run by free-thinking creatives and people with secular, progressive values, those who hew to more traditional, conservative Christian beliefs tend to be less visible.

But Mark Wahlberg has no problem being vocal about his Catholic faith, which must be refreshing to the approximately 61 million Catholics in America.

Wahlberg spoke about the balance he has to strike between his private and professional life on the Today show on February 22, also known as Ash Wednesday to Christians. The “Boogie Nights” actor wore an ash cross on his forehead to commemorate the holy day.

“It’s a balance,” the 51-year-old actor said. “I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith. That’s an even bigger sin. You know, it’s not popular in my industry, but I cannot deny my faith. It’s important for me to share that with people. But, I have friends from all walks of life and all different types of faiths and religions, so it’s important to respect and honor them as well.”

He also believes in leading through his example instead of pressuring his four children to follow his faith.

“I don’t force it on them,” he said. “But they know that Dad can’t start the day without being in prayer, can’t start the day without reading my Scripture or going to Mass. And hopefully, instead of forcing that on them, they’ll say, ‘Well, if it works for Dad, maybe it’ll work for us,’ and they’ll kind of gravitate towards it on their own.”

Wahlberg can keep his faith strong while dealing with the pressures of Hollywood thanks to his relationship with Father Flavin, a parish priest who helped him make drastic changes in his life. As a young man, Wahlberg was a high school dropout who had multiple run-ins with the law. But Flavin has helped him turn his life around.

“He’s been in my life since I was 13,” Wahlberg said of Flavin. “He married me and my wife and baptized all my children.” It's also believed that Flavin helps Whalberg choose his movie roles that “honor his religious roots.”

The “Father Stu” star says that his faith has helped him develop the discipline to be a successful actor.

"Discipline has always been important for me in life," he told Today. "Once I started getting into movies and transitioned from music, I realized I needed a lot of discipline in my life, and that discipline has afforded me so many other things. I’ve been rewarded for it so much, and I want to share that with people, whether that’s with fasting, working out more, detaching from other things and just spending more time with God, in prayer or in thoughtful reflection. Those things are important."

Wahlberg’s ability to live a life in alignment with his faith is noble in an industry that can easily challenge one’s moral compass. It’s also noteworthy that has chosen to live by example instead of being preachy and is accepting of those who may believe differently.

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