FUNDING FAITH AND VALUES IN FILM

 

“If Jesus was here, he’d be using film.”

—Bishop Norman McFarland

 

Bishop Norman McFarland, the second bishop of the Diocese of Orange, now deceased, loved to write, according to Phil Ries, former director of finance for the Diocese, who worked closely with him. Ries recalled that the bishop also was a student of the film industry. As he got older, Ries said, he’d say that the most overpaid people were actors and athletes. “He bemoaned that there was nothing in the way of moral lessons in films, so he started to talk to people in Hollywood about the lack of morals. He wanted something out there that showed values and that showed character.”

Diocese of Orange Chancellor Shirl Giacomi recalled that Bishop McFarland once said, “If Jesus was here, he’d be using film.” The bishop wanted to create a scholarship for aspiring filmmakers and he wanted that to be available through a Catholic university. That quest resulted in the establishment of the Bishop Norman McFarland Scholarship at Loyola Marymount University in 2012. Its mission is to assist in the education of future filmmakers who will write screenplays and produce films that feature characters who display Christian values.

Each year the scholarship funds tuition, as well as room and board, for an undergraduate and graduate student who are enrolled in the Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television. Applicants are asked to “demonstrate through an essay their faith and loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church, and the ways in which they further the mission of the Church in its promotion of the good, true and beautiful.”

This year’s scholarship recipients include graduate student Tom Radovich and undergrad Marina LaPuzza.

Tom Radovich grew up in the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. In 2011, he received a BA in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago and is now studying at LMU, thanks to the Bishop McFarland Scholarship.

“I definitely want to write films with Catholic Values,” Radovich said. “There is no writing school like LMU. We have the best teachers. I’m so glad I’m here. I have friends, Catholic and non-Catholic friends that I’ll stay connected with forever.”

Marina LaPuzza, this year’s undergraduate scholarship winner, is a product of Mater Dei High School who went on to study at Cal State L.A. She is looking forward to entering LMU in the fall to study film.

“I’m really excited to get in and start learning,” LaPuzza said. “The scholarship is so great. For the first time in my life I will finally have time to do what I really love. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.”

LaPuzza first developed a love of film when she saw the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.”

“I just never heard of LMU before,” she said, “and we looked and they are in the top 10 film schools.”

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