Tag Archives: baptism

The Quiet Man headed home

“Based on the Church’s teachings, his soul was wiped clean, with Baptism and the Last Rites. He probably made a direct shot to the high heavens,” said Patrick Wayne, the son of the legendary actor whose name still resonates with audiences nearly 40 years after his death.

“I think what my dad represents to people, what they find attractive, is that he, not only on the screen but in his personal life, represented a character, the icon of the Old West, that this is an individual who stands on his own, who works hard to succeed,” said Patrick, 79, who himself enjoyed a successful film career.

Patrick Wayne, the chairman of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, will be one of the Legatus Summit 2019 speakers in January. He will be speaking about his famous father, the role that faith played in his life, and his family’s work to carry on the Duke’s legacy through funding cancer research.

“We had no idea how long the institute would last,” Patrick said. “We thought we would ride this and if his name resonated with the public, great. Not one of us would have expected that his celebrity and popularity would still resonate, and it does.”

An ambitious athlete

John Wayne was born Marion Mitchell Morrison in 1907 in a small town in Iowa. His parents moved the family west to California, eventually settling in Glendale. The young John Wayne was a gifted and driven athlete.

As a young man, my dad was ambitious. He wanted to succeed. He wanted to do something,” Patrick said.

John Wayne had dreams of attending the U.S. Naval Academy, but did not get admitted. However, he excelled in football and landed a scholarship to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In his first year of college, Wayne broke his shoulder while surfing, and lost his football scholarship. He went to work in the local film studios, where USC football players often worked in the off-season, helping with props and working as an extra.

Within a decade, John Wayne was a movie star.

“If he had gone to the Naval Academy, he would have become the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Patrick said. “If he had gone to school, he would have been president of the United States. He was going to succeed in some form, in some way. Fate just took him into the movie business.”

Then to the movies

John Wayne appeared in more than 175 movies. He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. He played dozens of cowboys in Westerns. He starred alongside Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man and portrayed soldiers in The Longest Day and The Green Berets.

“His roles in films were cookie-cutter, but not in a bad way,” said Patrick, who explained that his father was advised at a young age by the actor Harry Carey that he did not need to portray many different characters because moviegoers wanted their stars to be consistent, if not predictable.

“Right or wrong, good or bad, he chose to follow that route. I guess it paid off for him. He was still pretty successful,” said Patrick, who appeared in 40 films, 11 with his father, including The Quiet Man and The Green Berets.

“What came through the screen was his presence,” Patrick said. “When he worked in films, you were drawn to him. As an audience you can’t take your eyes off him. Without any trickery or chicanery, he was just like that.”

Referring to actors who would “be doing all sorts of schtick” when they were in a scene with the Duke, Patrick said he would tell his father, “Is this guy kidding?” The elder Wayne would just respond, “I don’t care about that. No one is going to be looking at him anyway.”

While a director could give Patrick particular instructions about a role, they would easily be vetoed by his father’s input.

“My dad would say, ‘Do it this way,’” Patrick said. “And I’d say, ‘Okay, Dad.’”

A man’s man

Audiences the world over saw John Wayne the movie star, the icon of masculinity. To Patrick, he was first and foremost, Dad.

“In his personal life, he had a great sense of humor, which from time to time was shown in the films, but not to the extent that he had,” Patrick said. “He was a warm, sensitive, feeling person, a very thoughtful, considerate, bright person. He was a much more well-rounded person than what you might see in the films.”

What Hollywood accurately captured was the Duke’s larger-than-life presence.

“He could walk into a room and literally everybody would stop talking,” Patrick said. “By the same token, in five minutes he was as charming as they come. He would warm you up and you would be talking to him and you would think from the conversation, from the comfort level, that you had been friends with him for your entire life.”

John Wayne grew up Presbyterian, but he was not churchgoing. He was divorced three times. His first wife, Patrick’s mother Josephine, was a devout Catholic who never remarried after their divorce but never stopped praying for him.

“For the last eight years of her life, she was a daily communicant,” Patrick said. “My mother was driven to be a decent person, and she had the structure of religion as a backbone.”

While John Wayne rarely darkened the doors of a church, Patrick said his father was “one of the most decent men” he still has ever met.

“He believed in the core values of loyalty, honesty, reliability and he lived his life that way,” Patrick said. “That’s the way he treated other people, with respect.”

Fighting cancer, embracing the Church

Josephine’s example and prayers had their intended effect. According to his biographies, Wayne was a spiritual person who hand-wrote letters to God as a way of praying. He also befriended Archbishop Tomas Clavel of Panama.

In the mid-1960s, The Duke successfully fought lung cancer, but by 1978, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He deteriorated quickly.

In May 1979, with Wayne in a coma and dying of cancer, the hospital chaplain, a Catholic priest, came to visit him. Patrick said he went into the room and asked his father if it was okay for the chaplain to see him.

“My dad opened his eyes and said, ‘Okay.’ That was the first thing he said in seven days. I was stunned,” said Patrick, who added that the chaplain emerged about 20 minutes later and told him that he had baptized his father and given him the anointing of the sick.

“He was conscious and made a conscious acceptance of it,” Patrick said. “And two hours later, he passed away.”

Continuing legacy

Today, the John Wayne Cancer Institute carries on The Duke’s legacy. Located in Santa Monica, California and affiliated with the Saint John’s Health Center, the institute has expanded its research efforts to fight many different diseases, including urologic, thoracic, endocrine, gynecologic, and neurologic cancers.

Patrick’s son is also on the board of directors, and his grandsons are showing interest in continuing the work of the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

“So it’s a generational thing,” Patrick said. “There are going to be Waynes to take up the reins for a long time to come.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

What is the role of Godparents?

Godparents should consider giving gifts on the child’s Baptism anniversary . . .


A Godparent’s role is to assist the growth of the baptized in his new spiritual life. If the baptized is an infant or child whose parents are not faithful to the Church, or if the baptized is an adult, the Godparent must provide a primary role in the Godchild’s spiritual growth.

The greatest help a Godparent provides is an example of faith. The Godparent must foster the virtues and provide an example of prayer. As part of this example of faith, the Godparent must be involved in the life of his Godchild. No one is an example unless he is seen by those to whom he witnesses. Being actively involved in the life of a Godchild fosters a strong relationship and enables the Godparent to serve as a role model.

A Godparent cannot provide an example of faith if he does not share the faith. Because a Godparent promises to assist in the formation of the newly baptized — and agrees to represent the community of faith and encourage his Godchild to remain in full communion with the Church — he must be in full communion with the Catholic Church himself.

Because Baptism is the sacrament that unites all Christians, and because the Church recognizes the importance of family relationships and close friendships, a Catholic may serve as a “witness” for a non-Catholic in Baptism, but not as a Godparent. A Catholic cannot serve as a Godparent for someone who has no intention of growing in the Catholic faith. Likewise, one non-Catholic may act as a “witness” at a Catholic Baptism, but only if a Catholic is also acting as a Godparent for the baptized.

Being a Godparent is an important duty in the Catholic Church. Godparents are usually chosen from family members and close friends, and often they don’t live in the same locale as their Godchild. While this makes it difficult to be part of the child’s life, it’s not impossible. At the very least, Godparents should send cards on their Godchild’s Baptism day, Confirmation day, birthday, or other significant days in his life.

Remembering his Baptism and Confirmation encourages the Godchild to call upon the grace received from these sacraments and live a life worthy of a child of God. Parents should encourage the relationship between their children and their children’s Godparents. In this way, the children will not consider Baptism or Confirmation simply a nice thing that happened. Rather, they will experience a concrete relationship that bears witness to their status as adopted children of God — and they will be encouraged to live life in harmony with the greater family of the Church.

LEON SUPRENANT is the director of My Catholic Faith Delivered. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions, Vol. 1,” which he co-authored with Philip C.L. Gray (Emmaus Road Publishing, 1999).

Catechism 101

Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the Godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!”

For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the Godfather and Godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized, child or adult, on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1253, 1255

Can Catholics be born again?

Fr. John Trigilio writes that Catholics are born again through water and the Spirit . . .

Fr. John Trigilio

Fr. John Trigilio

Yes, they can! Catholics are “born again” in water and the Holy Spirit. The term “born again” is a bit strange in Catholic colloquialism. Nevertheless, through Baptism we are spiritually born or “born again.”

It is through Baptism that we become adopted children of God, hence the notion of being “born again.” While Catholics believe one does not need to be aware of being “born again” in order for it to still happen (as in the case of infant Baptism), Evangelical Protestants believe only a mature person who is able to reason and make adult decisions is able to be effectively “baptized.” According to their tradition, accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior is the moment of rebirth, and the sacrament of Baptism merely ratifies that decision.

Infant Baptism, whereby Catholics are “born again,” is followed by another sacrament called Confession, when Catholics can and must speak for themselves. Confirmation, on the other hand, is when young people are asked to confirm the faith they were given at Baptism by consciously embracing it. In one sense, Confirmation is the time when Catholics are asked to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Evangelicals believe they are saved in the blood of Christ and confirmed in the Holy Spirit at the same time.

Catholics also believe they are saved through the blood of Christ and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism; however, Catholics receive them in a different sacrament. Western (Latin Rite) Catholics are baptized as infants and usually receive Confirmation as an adolescent. Eastern (Byzantine) Catholics get both sacraments as an infant on the same day. In Baptism, Catholics are born again in water and the Holy Spirit. In Confirmation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are imparted to the previously baptized.

All Christians baptize by water to confer the saving effects of the blood of Christ that was shed on Good Friday. Water is the outward sign that signifies what is taking place spiritually. Spiritually, the soul is cleansed of original sin, then infused with sanctifying grace. The effects of Baptism are phenomenal: We become adopted children of God, heirs to the heavenly kingdom, and members of Christ’s mystical Body, the Church.

Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Christians receive all three sacraments of initiation at once. So a baby is baptized, is confirmed (called chrismated), and receives Holy Communion upon his baptismal day. This goes back to when the early Church was receiving many adult converts. After the Peace of Constantine, there was a mass conversion of adults, so all three sacraments were celebrated at once.

FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions,” which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.

Catechism 101

Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature, infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1231, 1250

Servant leadership

Editor Patrick Novecosky says there’s more to Jesus than meets the eye . . .

Patrick Novecosky

I’ll never forget a couple of years ago standing at the spot where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. I was there for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan, and the group of journalists I was traveling with arrived a few hours ahead of the Pope.

While I was waiting, I reflected on why Jesus chose to be baptized at all. John the Baptist himself pondered this question. After all, we’re baptized to wash away original sin. We’re baptized into the death of Christ that we may one day rise as He did. Jesus had no need of those things.

As it turns out, there are many reasons why Jesus wanted to be baptized — to be obedient to the Father, to make the water holy and to elevate baptism to a sacrament. But what struck me as I gazed at the humble structure erected over the Jordan River is that — like many things Jesus did — he was baptized as an example for us to follow.

Jesus led by example. He didn’t ask his followers to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. In fact, one of the first things he said when building his team of disciples was, “Come, follow me.” He wasn’t only asking them to go for a walk, he was beginning a process of formation — forming men who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would form the Church.

The older I get, the more I’m inspired by Jesus’ leadership style. A lot has been written about “servant leadership” in the last decade — and for good reason. It’s modeled on the type of leadership that our Lord lived perfectly. Jesus made it clear that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).

Likewise, we are all called to serve. As a husband and father, I’m trying to follow Christ’s example. In confession many years ago, a priest told me that the first thing I should do when I come home from work is ask my wife, “What can I do for you?”

I’ve failed to do that more times than I’ve succeeded, but it’s still my goal to have that servant-leader attitude at home — and at work. It’s a high standard, but one worth striving for.

Similarly, Catholic CEOs set the tone in their workplace. If the boss sets a high moral standard, everyone will soon understand that they’re expected to meet that standard. However, if a leader demonstrates that a low moral standard is acceptable, most of those in his charge will lower their own standards of behavior.

Studies have shown that companies with a high standard for ethical behavior flourish, so leading like Jesus — servant, shepherd and steward — in our homes, businesses and community will not only lead to a flourishing of our faith, but also our companies, our communities and our families.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

Why do Catholics use holy water?

From ancient times, water has always played an important symbolic role in biblical faith

Al Kresta

Al Kresta

Holy water is one of many sacramentals — aids to devotion — which include objects such as holy water, scapulars, statues, medals and rosaries. Sacramentals are also actions such as blessings, exorcisms and the sign of the cross.

While sacraments objectively confer grace, the value of a sacramental depends on the disposition and openness of the believer to receive grace from God. Sacramentals can be established or abolished by the pastoral judgment of the Church. The sacraments, on the other hand, were instituted by Christ and cannot be added to or taken from.

Now let’s dive into holy water in particular. Water has always played an important symbolic role in biblical faith. Ancient Israel used to purify people and places by sprinkling them with water (see Lev 14:49-52; Num 19:18). Israelite priests ritually washed their hands before and after offering sacrifice. The temple in Jerusalem had fonts for worshippers to cleanse themselves.

Today, Catholic priests wash their hands at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the sacrament of Baptism, a sacramental (holy water) becomes the material substance used by God to effect the remission of sins.

Plain water becomes holy water through the blessing of a priest. For instance, water is blessed at the Easter Vigil for the baptism of those being received into the Church that night. This holy water used to be retained for the entire liturgical year. For hygienic (as well as theological) reasons, we now use fresh water for baptisms outside of the Easter season.

After being blessed, the holy water is placed in a receptacle accessible to worshippers. Some churches now have large baptismal fonts that sit in the vestibule. Worshippers can dip their fingers into the font and then make the sign of the cross as a preparation to enter the sacred mysteries.

With this sacramental we’re reminded of our baptism and union with Christ in his death and resurrection, and we pray to be cleansed and forgiven of any venial sins that have stained us on our journey through the world.

Al Kresta is CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon. This column is taken from his book “Why Do Catholics Genuflect?” © 2001. Used with permission of St. Anthony Messenger Press. To order copies, call 1-800-488-0488 or visit servantbooks.org