Catholic-friendly films on Netflix: September

Much of the time spent on Netflix is in the search for something to watch, and the inventory is updated so frequently that it’s hard to keep track of recently added (or have been there for a while!) films worth watching.

Look no further. In no particular order, and by no means comprehensive, are the synopses of some amazing films and a few shows worth mention that you can queue up for your next movie night. Films appropriate for the whole family are marked as such.

For details on the content of each movie, visit IMBD’s website and click the “Parents Guide” section for that movie.

Movies:

Rogue One, PG-13 – A spinoff story of Star Wars, set immediately before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, following a group of rebels on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The Prestige, PG-13 – Rival stage magicians engage in a competitive one-upmanship show with unfortunate results.

Lion, PG-13 – Based on the non-fiction book, A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierly, about a man who finds his way back to India to find his birth family.

Memento, R – A man who suffers from anterograde amnesia pieces together his trauma to find the persons who attacked him and his wife, using a system of polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he can’t remember.

Schindler’s List, R – An ethnic German businessman saves the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II.

The Little Prince, PG (Family-friendly) – Based on the novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery about a young girl who befriends and elderly man, who tells her the story of his meeting with the Little Prince in the Saharan desert.

The Sixth Sense, PG-13 – A psychologist helps a young boy who is able to see and talk to dead people.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas, PG-13 – World War II as experienced and told through the eyes of two young boys who befriend each other: A son of a Nazi commandant and a Jewish inmate in a concentration camp.

The Prince of Egypt, PG (Family-friendly) – An animated, musical retelling story of the life of Moses and the events of Exodus that lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

The Giver, PG-13 – A dystopian story following a boy living in a seemingly utopian society where emotion has been eradicated and lacks color, memory, climate or terrain in order to preserve order and equality rather than individuality.

Midnight in Paris, PG-13 – A frustrated writer travels back in time every night at midnight to visit famous artists and writers of earlier decades, exploring themes of nostalgia and modernism.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, PG-13 – A French film based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir of his life after suffering a stroke that left him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome. |

The BFG, PG (Family-friendly) – An orphan girl befriends a friendly giant (“Big Friendly Giant”) who takes her to giant country where they help save man-eating giants from taking over the human world.

How to Steal a Million (Family-friendly) – Starring Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn, about a daughter of a wealthy Frenchman who creates counterfeit art and decides to steal back his forged sculpture in a heist to protect him from exposure.

Hugo, PG (Family-friendly) – A lonely orphaned boy who lives inside a railway station attempts to fix a broken automaton left to him by his late father with the help of a friend and find a place he can call home.

Begin Again, R – A singer-songwriter is discovered by a struggling record label executive, who collaborate together to produce an album recorded all over public places in New York City.

Little Boy, PG-13 (Family-friendly) – A little boy befriends a priest, a Japanese immigrant and a magician who help him bring his father back home from World War II.

Odd Thomas, PG-13 – Based on the novel by Catholic author Dean Koontz, a young man who sees the dead saves his hometown from tragedy.

I Am Sam, PG-13 – The story of a mentally-challenged man raising a young daughter with the help of his friends, until the unconventional family setting comes to the attention of a social worker who wants the girl placed in foster care.

Mary and Martha, PG – Two women who lose their sons to malaria come together to thwart the disease in Africa.

 

TV shows worth a mention:
Daredevil – Although very violent, Netflix’s Marvel superhero series explores many Catholic and moral themes throughout its current two seasons.

Father Brown – A light-hearted mystery series produced by BBC and based on G.K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” short stories.

Person of Interest – Crime drama starring Jim Caviezel about a man who tracks down would-be terrorists with the help of a computer programmer who developed an artificial intelligence “machine” for the government.

COMING UP: Father and son, deacon and priest: Deacon dads and priest sons share special bond as both serve God’s people

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The bond between a father and son is one of God’s greatest designs; however, when father and son are both called to serve the Church as deacon and priest, that bond takes on a whole new meaning. Just ask these two dads and their sons, all of whom answered the call to serve the people of God at the altar.

Deacon Michael Magee serves at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield, while his son Father Matthew Magee has worked as the priest secretary to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila for the past several years and will soon be moved to a new assignment as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder. Deacon Darrell Nepil serves at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver, and his son, Father John Nepil, served at several parishes within the archdiocese before his current assignment as a professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.

However different their journeys may have been, all four have something in common; mainly, that far from seeing their vocations as a reward from God, they have received them as an uncommon gift of grace that has blessed their families and individual relationships with each other abundantly, knowing that God acts in different ways to help us all get to Heaven.

Interwoven journeys

Deacon Michael Magee was ordained in May 2009, at the end of Father Matt’s first year of seminary. Little did they know that God would use both of their callings to encourage each other along the journey.

Deacon Michael’s journey began when a man from his parish was ordained a deacon.

“I simply felt like God was calling me to do something more than I was doing at the present time,” he said. “I had been volunteering for a number of different things and was involved in some ministry activities and in the Knights of Columbus. And I thought the idea of being a deacon would be simply another activity for which I could volunteer.”

He didn’t know what it entailed at the time. In fact, he believed it was something a man could simply sign up for. To his surprise, the diaconate was more serious – and it required five years of formation and discernment. Yet he was so drawn to it, that he decided to do it anyway. But as he learned more about the nature of the diaconate during his formation, he became more nervous and unsure about whether God was really calling him to that vocation. 

While his doubts remained all the way up to his ordination, Deacon Michael was faithful to his studies, trusting that God would lead him in the right path. 

And God did — through the calling of his own son to the priesthood.

Deacon Michael didn’t realize that his son Matthew had paid close attention to his father’s faith journey and had found in it a light that gave him courage to discern the priesthood.

Father Matthew Magee (left) and his dad, Deacon Michael Magee (right), were both encouraging to one another as they each pursued their respective vocations. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

“Seeing my dad, as a father, growing in his relationship with the Lord was really influential for me on my own desire to follow Christ,” said Father Matt. “Looking at his courage to discern his own vocation and follow God’s plan in his life gave me the strength and courage to be open to the same thing in my life… He played a very important role, whether he knew it or not at the time, and whether I knew it or not at the time.”

On the other hand, Father Matt didn’t know that his dad was in turn encouraged by his own response to God’s calling. 

“As I went through all those doubts, I watched Matthew’s journey in seminary and listened to how he was dealing with that in his life. And, as he just articulated very well, I also saw those same qualities in him,” Deacon Michael said. “Seeing a young man in his 20s willing to consider following God for the rest of his life also gave me the courage to continue on in my own journey, to see it through.”

God’s way of uplifting them in their vocations through each other’s journey is something they are very grateful for. 

This unusual grace impacted Father Matt during his first Mass, when his dad, as deacon, approached him before the Gospel reading and asked for the traditional blessing by calling him “father.”

“It was a really special moment for me. He’s certainly my biological father and raised me. But then there’s something different when we’re at the altar in a clerical capacity — there’s a strange reversal of roles when we’re giving spiritual nourishment to the people — a father asks the new father for the blessing,” he said.

In both of their vocations, Deacon Michael and Father Matt see God’s Providence and the unique plan he has for all of us.

“We all have a vocation, even if it’s something we may not expect,” Deacon Michael concluded. “You may feel anxiety or worry about what it’s going to look like, but trust in God. He will take care of things as he always does.”

A bribe for Heaven

For Deacon Darell and Father John Nepil, the journey was different, but not any less providential.

While he grew up Catholic, Father John wasn’t interested in setting foot on any Church activity during his teenage years. His saving grace was perhaps what many parents have to do to get their teenagers to Church: bribe them.

“His mom and I basically bribed him to go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference,” Deacon Darell said with a laugh. “He didn’t want to go, but we’d heard so many good things about it, that we said, ‘We’re going to make this happen, whatever it takes.’”

So the Nepils came up with a creative idea.

“He owed me some money for a uniform that he had needed for a job in the summer. So, I said, ‘Listen, if you go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference, I’ll forgive your debt. And he did, he and his brother went. And John especially came back a different boy. He literally was converted with a lightning bolt at that retreat.”

To this day, Father John marks his conversion to Christ from the summer before his senior year in high school when he attended that conference. 

As it happens with stories worth telling, the details of how much money he owed his father have varied over the years, and it’s a matter of debate among them, but Father John remembers it was close to $500.

“That’s subject to each one,” Father John said laughingly. “But what matters is that they offered to forgive my debt if I went to this retreat – it was money well spent.”

Besides this important event, Father John said that his dad influenced him in many ways by the simple fact of who he was as a father.

“My dad’s faith and moral character were a rock for me during some difficult teenage years,” he said. “He’s a great example of a man who was always faithful and lived a really outstanding moral life, but then as he deepened in love with Christ, he decided to give of himself in a more profound service.”

Father John Nepil (left) and Deacon Darrell Nepil (right) both had rather roundabout ways to their respective vocations, but they both say serving God’s people together as brothers in Holy Orders is a great joy. (Photo provided)

Besides his desire to serve and follow God, the seed that would eventually lead Deacon Darell to the diaconate was planted by a coworker, who would also take holy orders: Deacon Joe Donohoe.

“One day he said to me, ‘You should be a deacon.’ And, of course, I laughed at him and said, ‘I don’t have time for that. My life is too busy.’ But it only took him to suggest it for the idea to keep coming back to my head, and God kept nudging me. Eventually I decided I really wanted to do that,” Deacon Darell said.

The ability to share at the altar during the Mass has deepened the natural relationship of father and son and given Deacon Darell and Father John new opportunities to grow closer to God. 

One of the most meaningful times came when Deacon Darell had a massive stroke in 2018. While he was in the hospital, Father John was able to visit and celebrate Mass at his bed and pray the rosary with him every day, as he had come back from Rome and was working on his dissertation.

“It was probably the most privileged and intimate time I’ve ever had with my father,” Father John said. “It was an amazing gift that really changed our relationship.”

“I feel like that’s a huge reason why I healed and why I am here today,” Deacon Darell added.

“It’s a real gift to have my dad as a deacon and a brother. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s one of the great joys of my life.” Father John concluded. “That’s really what has bonded our relationship together: the sheer desire to serve Jesus, especially in holy orders.”