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“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Blessed Mother Teresa

Arts & Culture 20A The Catholic Spirit

Exploring our church and our world

AUGUST 4, 2011

Conversion story is ‘cinematic retreat’ for Catholics ere the Catholic Church to begin giving cinematic imprimaturs, few films would be better qualified to receive one than “Vito Bonafacci” (Cavu), writer-director John Martoccia’s meditative — and theologically impeccable — exploration of Scripture-based doctrine and spirituality. Paul Borghese plays the title character in this John Mulderig suburban-set Everyman story. Though happily married to loving wife Laura (Tisha Tinsman) and financially successful, Vito’s relationship to the Catholic faith in which he was raised has become tenuous. Indeed, by his own admission, except for the occasional Christmas or Easter liturgy, or family funeral, he hasn’t set foot in church for 25 years. But a nightmare during which Vito foresees his death and condemnation to hell compels the outwardly content businessman to re-examine his life.

shaky. The dialogue, too, sounds forced at times because it’s being made subordinate to the (undeniably worthy) points Martoccia’s script is designed to drive home. Such tendentiousness leaves this restful cinematic retreat ill-equipped to convert the deeply cynical or hard of heart. Evangelical Christians willing to withstand the unabashed Romanism on display, by contrast, will at least find the biblical basis for several core Catholic beliefs laid out in onscreen quotations as Vito’s journey toward conversion reaches its climax.


Movie Review

Thoughtful reflections While not for the impatient, since it unfolds at a leisurely pace, the drama thus set in motion features some eloquent poetic reflections from Vito’s deceased mother (Emelise Aleandri) — who visits him during that transformative dream — as well as beautiful cinematography of the lush landscape surrounding Vito’s home.

Reinforcing faith

CNS photo / Cavu

Paul Borghese stars in a scene from the movie “Vito Bonafacci.”

‘Vito Bonafacci’ coming to Maple Grove The Catholic Spirit is sponsoring a special local-run of “Vito Bonafacci.” ■ When: Friday, Aug. 26-Thursday, Sept. 1 ■ Where: AMC Arbor Lakes 16, 12575

The spiritual significance underlying everyday tasks is also highlighted in scenes portraying the work of Vito’s cook Marie (Carin Mei), his barber (Ralph Squillace) and his gardener (Louis Vanaria), all of whom the

Elm Creek Blvd., Maple Grove. ■ Showtimes: Call 1-888-AMC-4FUN. Or visit WWW.AMCTHEATRES.COM/ARBORLAKES. ■ For more information about the film, visit WWW.VITOBONAFACCI.COM.

protagonist quizzes about their religious views. If that latter turn of events seems somewhat unlikely, that’s because the dramatic elements of this story are on occasion — it must be admitted — a bit

Whatever its artistic limitations, “Vito Bonafacci” will certainly reinforce faith in the devout and in those with yearnings for the sacred which may, as yet, be rudimentary. Religious educators will also welcome the movie as an apt and pleasant instrument in the catechetical instruction of teenagers or adults. The film contains a single mildly crass term as well as mature themes and references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service. More reviews are available online at WWW.USCCB. ORG/MOVIES.

Account of shrine’s beginnings also tells of U.S. church’s rise “America’s Church: The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Catholic Presence in the Nation’s Capital” by Thomas A. Tweed. Oxford University Press (New York, 2011). 365 pp., $35. In “America’s Church,” Thomas Tweed, a professor of religious studies at the University of Texas in Austin, gives us a long overdue historical overview of the crucial components of Hugh American McNichol Catholicism that led to the establishment of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Book Review

Over the years, the basilica has come to represent many things to various groups within the American Catholic Church and a historical overview of the political and social intrigues that were part of its

construction and completion are part of that rich tapestry. Taking a historical chronology that illuminates the multiple groups, clergy and laity alike, that advocated the initiation of a national Catholic cathedral, the author provides a clear portrait of the intense dynamics at play between the concept of the separation of church and state, the internal intrigues between members of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and the devotional needs of multiple segments of various Catholic ethnic groups that desired a symbol of their Catholic identity in the nation’s capital. In a detailed and remarkable manner, the author narrates the individuals, groups and events that successfully overcame obstacles of internal Catholic Church politics,

governmental and bureaucratic red tape, the shortages of the Second World War and many other unforeseen problems to finally provide a home for American Catholicism that incorporated the multicultural notions and ideals of a growing American Catholic Church. Most interesting are the various unrelated groups such as Catholic schoolchildren, Catholic women, various influential American prelates and multiple groups representing Catholic immigrants that joined forces to finance, plan and finally achieve the magnificent edifice we today call the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Often when we Catholics visit the national shrine in Washington, we

neglect to remember the great struggles on many levels that allowed American Catholics to achieve a presence in the United States on equal par with other religious denominations. The narrative history presented by Tweed shows not only the struggle endured by American Catholics in achieving social and political harmony, it also illustrates the great advances toward Catholic theological understanding that were made in the 20th century and continue in the present day. “America’s Church” is a significant work of scholarship that exposes the monumental tasks that accompanied not only the building of a Catholic place of worship, but also the skills employed by American Catholics to become a civil and religious presence in the nation’s capital and all aspects of American society. Hugh McNichol is a Catholic theologian and historian. He lives in Wilmington, Del., and writes for multiple Catholic media outlets.

The Catholic Spirit - August 4, 2011  

The life of an Army chaplain. St. Paul's Outreach turns 25. Famine threatens millions. Pope Benedict's WYD: Space for silence, solemnity.

The Catholic Spirit - August 4, 2011  

The life of an Army chaplain. St. Paul's Outreach turns 25. Famine threatens millions. Pope Benedict's WYD: Space for silence, solemnity.