Mark Wahlberg's approach to imparting his deep Catholic faith to his children is more about living it than mandating it.
The star of the new movie "Father Stu," which is about a down-on-his-luck former Golden Gloves boxer who became a priest, shared on TODAY Thursday how he hopes his religious faith rubs off on his four children with wife Rhea Durham.
"They think dad's crazy, and he's boring," he joked to Hoda Kotb. "But even with my faith, I don't force it on them. 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."
TODAY's Carson Daly is another dad of four who has been upfront about the importance of his Catholic faith in his life to the point where he almost became a priest. He shared with Wahlberg on Thursday that he learned about "Father Stu" from being on the Catholic meditation app Hallow while praying during this holy season of Lent.
Carson Daly says he considered becoming a priestMarch 20, 201901:49
"It's the least place I ever thought I would be in front of content that might drive me to see a movie, but I heard the intro to 'Father Stu'; I heard the first sermon that you did, it's you being Father Stu, and there's 70 million Catholics in the country, and I thought, 'What a brilliant place to put this,'" Carson said.
"And I discovered it at a time of prayer and meditation, and it made me want to go see a movie."
"Amazing," Wahlberg said. "And I love the Hallow app, by the way."
The movie is based on the life of Stuart Long, an agnostic Golden Gloves boxer in the 1980s who converted to Catholicism and eventually became a priest after nearly dying in a motorcycle accident.
The film depicts initial opposition from the church to his goal of becoming a priest due to his boxing background and criminal record. Long was ordained as a priest in his home state of Montana in 2007 and died at 50 in 2014 of a rare illness.
“People recognized all of his real-life experience and how authentic he was when he communicated,” Wahlberg said.
Wahlberg was so passionate about Long’s story that he said he personally financed the movie.
"I just felt it was also the best way to make the movie without any kind of interference," he said. "We wanted to be completely in control creatively."