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Mark Wahlberg talks faith with Sydney priest Fr Lewi Barakat

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Fr Lewi Barakat made a pastoral visit to Mark Wahlberg. Photo: Supplied

Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg has again urged his 30 million Instagram followers to “stay prayed up”, this time surprising Aussie Catholics by appearing alongside a local priest.

Since first appearing in St Mary’s Cathedral forecourt in late February, the Catholic Oscar-nominated actor has posted from other Sydney churches with a now familiar-message, making the sign of the cross and saying, “Happy Sunday” and “Stay prayed up, God bless you”.

Sydney Catholics wondering where he was going to post his message from next wouldn’t have guessed it would be alongside their own Fr Lewi Barakat, priest-in-residence at the cathedral.

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Fr Barakat told The Catholic Weekly he had responded to a request for a pastoral visit and on arrival was encouraged to see Wahlberg, who is in the country to film a new movie, was keen not to miss Mass.

The post uploaded on 28 April shows Fr Barakat with vestments and Mass kit, smiling and giving a thumbs up as Wahlberg shares his message.

Fr Barakat said the pair discussed how much he loves being a priest and how it brought him joy to see how much the actor loves the Mass.

“Nothing makes a priest happier than bringing people into communion with God and right relationship with others,” Fr Barakat said.

“Each of us, whoever we are, and wherever we come from, have been made for God’s kingdom.

“It’s encouraging to see how Mark wants to use his gifts and his platform to share his love for Christ and his church.”

Wahlberg is open about his Catholic beliefs, although he has previously said it has come at a cost to his career.

In 2022 he starred in and produced Father Stu, a story about Stuart Long, a ‘bad-boy’ boxer turned Catholic priest.

Early this year he starred in a Superbowl ad for the Catholic meditation app, ‘Hallow’ inviting believers to pray with him during Lent.

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