Summer “cinema divina” retreat at home!

My column this month outlines how you can make a retreat from your seat if you are unable to a retreat house.

For Lent this year, the Pauline Center for Media Studies hosted a six-part weekly program using The Way, starring Martin Sheen. In the film written and directed by Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, Sheen plays Tom Avery, a widower who travels to France to bring home the body of his son who died in an accident. Tom discovers his son had just set out to make
the 800-kilometer pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostela and resolves to
take his place on the Camino (see October 2011 St. Anthony Messenger).

Because we wanted to keep the motif of the pilgrimage, even though we met at our center and people arrived by bus or car, our slogan was “If you can’t walk it with your feet, you can do it from your seat!” The same can be said for an annual retreat, which can be made at home if you’re unable to get away to a retreat house. Summertime is ideal to live out Jesus’ invitation to the disciples in Mark 6:31: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted
place and rest a while.”

Narrative films are an ideal way to bridge faith and life, using the format and methodology of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. A Scripture verse that reflects Tom’s reality and journey in The Way is John 9:11.

Continue reading the On Faith and Media column here

Jesus at the Movies




Movies featuring the life of Jesus have been around almost since the beginning of cinema. The first narrative film about his life was a series of shorts edited by Lucien Nonguet. Historian Charles Keil described these early attempts as a “series of tableaux, autonomous units.” It was up to the viewer to knit the narrative together in his or her imagination.

In his book Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ Figures in Film (1997), Lloyd Baugh makes a distinction between films that depict the life of Jesus and those that include Jesus as a character. Christ-figures are those characters who do as Jesus did, laying down their lives for others or exhibiting traits that reflect Christ.

Baugh divides Jesus films into categories: classic (King of Kings), musical (Jesus Christ Superstar), scandal (The Last Temptation of Christ) and Pasolini’s masterpiece The Gospel According to St. Matthew.

Lent provides the spiritual environment and opportunity to contemplate images of Jesus in cinema. We may be inspired by the filmmaker’s imagining of Christ or challenged about our knowledge of the Jesus of the Gospels.

Most of the following films are available on DVD and may be appearing on television for Holy Week and Easter.

To continue reading Sr. Rose’s column in the April 2012 issue St. Anthony messenger click here


The Mighty Macs

The St. Anthony Messenger November 2011 issue has a feature about the story that inspired the film. Check it out! 

Here’s my review:

THE MIGHTY MACS (not yet rated): It is the early 1970s, at the dawn of the women’s movement and just before Title IX programs for athletics were extended to women. The president and mother superior (Ellen BurstynW.) of the small Catholic all-girls Immaculata College, northwest of Philadelphia, hires a new basketball coach, Cathy Rush (Carla GuginoRace to Witch Mountain).

Rush, who is non-Catholic and newly married to Ed (David Boreanaz, Bones), discovers that the team has no uniforms or a gym to practice in and that the school itself may soon be sold. But she takes on these challenges with sheer determination. Ed thinks that she is just trying to find a way to spend her time, but becomes confused by her dedication and their marriage suffers.

Sister Sunday (Marley SheltonW.) is questioning her vocation and wants to request a leave of absence from the community. But Rush notices her interest in basketball and invites her to be the assistant coach. They become friends, and the young nun grows in her understanding of her own calling.

With the energy and talent of the team, coaches and nuns, the Mighty Macs power their way to the first AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) national championship in 1972. They would subsequently win in 1973 and 1974, as well.

The Mighty Macs is based on a true story, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters were consulted on the film. The story was developed for the screen by first-time writer/director Tim Chambers and producer Pat Croce.

Themes of hard work, faith, character and heart permeate the film. Coach Cathy tells the girls before a game: “’Do you know that in a race all the runners compete? But only one receives the prize. So run, that you may obtain it’—Corinthians. You’ve earned the right to run the race tonight and it’s O.K. to want the prize. Do you know why teams get to championships?”

A player answers, “Trust.”

Rush continues, “That’s why they get to the championships. But do you know why they win championships? I want all of you to point to yourselves. That’s right. Look where you are all pointing [to their hearts]. This is why championships are won. One team, one beat, one heart.”

Though the film gives off a low-budget vibe, the feel is authentic and consistent with the story. The acting is frank, open and moving. Cathy Rush, a breast-cancer survivor, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 with Pat Riley and Dick Vitale, and the little college is now Immaculata University.Mature themes.

From St. Anthony Messenger May, 2010

The Cinema of Adoption


To go along with National Adoption Month in the US, here is a link to my column On Faith and Media in St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

Some of the movies I talk about are Secrets and Lies, Juno, Heaven on Earth, Daughter of Danang, Superman, etc.




On Faith and Media – my new video blog!





On Faith and Media

Here’s my new film review video blog on! 

Sr. Rose finds seeds of the gospel in today’s film scene. In her reviews of both cinema blockbusters and independent films and documentaries, she shares her passion for the best in today’s popular culture.

Sister Rose YouTube Channel

A few weeks ago I began reviewing current films for American

It is the online, continually updated version of St. Anthony Messenger.

I am also doing a weekly “Faith & Media: segment for American Catholic Radio on the Franciscan Media site

Stop by and visit!!

Here’s my review of the new Harry Potter film.

To subscribe to these weekly updates, visit


My first online movie reviews on

Visit American Catholic – St. Anthony Messenger for my first video reviews. They are quite brief: Rio, The Beaver, Thor, and There Be Dragons. Two longer, written reviews of The Beaver and There Be Dragons are also there.


Best Movie Priests and Priests in Films: Models of Faith and Humanity

Best Movie Priests article by Sr. Rose Pacatte, St. Anthony Messenger, June 2010

Priests in Films: Models of Faith and Humanity

CINCINNATI—When Pope Benedict XVI announced the Year for Priests last June, he wanted it “to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.” His announcement inspired lists of favorite priest films or priest characters posted on various blogs. An informal poll sent out via the Internet by Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P., film reviewer for St. Anthony Messenger, revealed that people have strong opinions about their favorite movie priests.

Sister Rose’s analysis of priests in films is the subject of an article entitled “The Best Movie Priests” for the June issue of St. Anthony Messenger. It is featured alongside two other articles—“Father Don Archambault: Uniting People for God,” by Marylynn G. Hewitt, S.F.O., and “Our Fathers: Reflections on Beloved Priests,” by Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron—for a special section commemorating the end of the Year for Priests. After May 20, Sister Rose’s article, which includes sidebars by Rev. Scott D. Young and Rev. Peter Malone, M.S.H., will be posted at:

Among those who responded to her poll, the representation of the priest they most admire is one who is realistic and down-to-earth, self-sacrificing and prayerful. The film that was named most often as a favorite priest film is 1981’s True Confessions, starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall, about loving but sparring brothers—one a detective and the other a priest.

On the Waterfront, a 1954 classic, is a favorite on almost every list of cinema priests. Maggie Hall, a free-lance writer from Florida, writes: “If I had to pick only one film priest who really impressed me, it would be Karl Malden’s Father Barry in On the Waterfront. His sermon in the hatch always moves me to tears. I’ve often wished I could attend Mass and hear a sermon from a Father Barry who was passionate about social justice.”

Sister Rose lists Saving Grace (1981) as a favorite. Tom Conti plays a youthful Pope Leo XIV who finds himself locked outside of the Vatican. Disguised by a beard, he takes a holiday in a remote village, where he helps the community build an aqueduct and stave off local crooks. “The pope’s commitment is tested,” Sister Rose writes, “but he perseveres in humility. The film is filled with Gospel analogies and metaphors where the pope and the people receive mutual saving grace.”

Another popular film is 1986’s The Mission, directed by Roland Joffé, about Jesuit missionaries who try and protect a band of Indians from enslavement and destruction. Paul Jarzembowski, of the Youth Ministry Office in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, says: “The most inspiring depiction of a priest in film is Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons). He is dedicated to peace and to the moral lesson that fighting back does not have to be the answer to conflict.”

Sister Rose feels that cinematic depictions of priests—from Edward Norton in Keeping the Faith to Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom to Ed Harris’ complex performance in The Third Miracle—can be galvanizing, faith-enriching experiences. “The gift of these cinema priests is for us to see how they are transformed and become agents of change for others,” she writes. “It is their ability to change in response to grace—or not—that creates a compelling story.

“For those of us watching, these are sacramental moments because the spiritual journey is acted out. As these characters encounter God in the narrative of sight and sound, we, too, are invited to encounter the divine in the darkness of the theater. We, too, emerge changed and graced. These movies and more can touch and change hearts through the love and mercy of Christ and make every year a Year for Priests.”


Permission is granted to reprint this release.

The other articles posted will be

Father Don Archambault: Uniting People for God”

by Marylynn G. Hewitt, S.F.O.

“Rivets, Flex and a Father’s Faith” by Jacob Frost.


Contact: Christopher Heffron

“Imagine That” and June movie reviews



Author Ann Rice is the cover story for St. Anthony Messenger, June 2009

Author Anne Rice is the cover story for St. Anthony Messenger, June 2009.

 Shadows and Light: the Faith Journey of Anne Rice

by Kristen West McGuire



IMAGINE THAT is a funny parable about dads being released just on time for Fathers Day. Check out my reviews of IMAGINE THAT and other films by clicking on the link below

Eye on Entertainment June 2009 Imagine That, Departures, American Violet, State of Play, Two Lovers, Monsters vs. Aliens & Knowing

“Eye on Entertainment” Film/TV Reviews May 2009


Here is a link to my film/TV review column in St. Anthony Messenger magazine (a national Catholic monthly):

Eye on Entertainment May 2009

A Certified Life
By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.



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