Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bing and Father Ray - Going the Same Way

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bing and Father Ray - Going the Same Way

Article excerpt

The script presents a handsome young priest arriving at an inner-city parish. Along the way, he plays baseball with some street kids, breaks someone's window and has no money to pay for the repairs. Once in his new assignment, the young priest sings modern pop songs in public. He visits a former girlfriend, alone, in her stage dressing room. And, when he catches local gang members stealing, rather than taking the youths to task, he takes them to a baseball game.

Just a few examples from the life of "Father Ray," the fictional priest in the ABC-TV series "Nothing Sacred," right? Wrong.

Instead, they were among the exploits of Fr. Charles O'Malley, the fictional priest portrayed by Bing Crosby in 1944's "Going My Way."

Retired Bishop Aloysius Wycislo of Green Bay, Wis., said that he doesn't doubt that the movie's popularity led many young men to consider a priestly vocation.

Jim Hogan, personnel manager for the Green Bay diocese, was in high school when "Going My Way" opened. "I thought Bing Crosby was cool. All the kids did," he recalled for the Compass, the Green Bay diocesan newspaper. "That stimulated a lot of vocations."

Hogan also knows that not everyone liked the film. "I remember some of the parents were upset about a priest singing and all that."

Reinhart Wessing, deacon who is retired parish director for St. Ann Parish for St. Anna, Wis., said, "I remember some controversy. The reason was they thought he was a bit modern for his time. …

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