Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Film Festival Attendees Mesmerized by the Real Deal

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Film Festival Attendees Mesmerized by the Real Deal

Article excerpt

An Irish-American priest from Philadelphia may A have looked out of place among the neon-clad skiers and cell-phone-carrying actresses at the Sundance Film Festival. But Fr. John McNamee said that, for the most part, he enjoyed himself among those he called "the beautiful people."

McNamee flew to the January festival with Eugene Martin, another Philadelphian, whom McNamee baptized as a baby about 30 years ago. "Diary of a City Priest," a dramatic feature based on a book of the same name by McNamee and directed by Martin, played to sold-out houses in Park City, Utah, and during the post-screening question-and-answer sessions the two men warmed to the crowds.

"It's a form of homilizing," McNamee said during an interview in the Sundance media hospitality suite overlooking the spectacular Park City Mountain Resort. "It might be a chance to speak the word where it might not otherwise be said."

McNamee and Martin share a hope that their film offered both Catholics and non-Catholics insights into a parish priest's inner life.

"You don't have realistic portrayals, you don't hear the authentic voices of priests' in movies and television, Martin said. "When John speaks to people afterward, people are mesmerized by what the real deal is."

McNamee, for his part, said he hopes "Diary" portrays his church as a place that reaches beyond its geographic and denominational borders. He quoted English Dominican Fr. Herbert McCabe: "There's only one community: the human community." Neighborhoods around the parish, McNamee added, are like dough, and the church can act as leavening.

Martin hailed McNamee as an inspiration to younger priests and to the diverse people living in North Philadelphia. …

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