‘Martin Sheen and Sister Rose: Activist Catholics’ by Heather King

‘Martin Sheen and Sister Rose: Activist Catholics’ by Heather King February 20, 2015



Sister Rose Pacatte, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, is the director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles.

In her recently-released book, “Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way” (Liturgical Press), she details well-known actor Sheen’s early life: one of 10 kids, a mother who died at 48 while saying the rosary, a hard-working father who was loving but stinted on the compliments. Many of the children, including Martin, suffered from alcoholism.

We learn of Sheen’s combination heart attack-nervous breakdown on the set of “Apocalypse Now” (he was only 36 at the time), his recovery (“The only two things of value that the United States has exported to the world for free are jazz and AA”), his return to the Church and, most of all, his decades of activism on a wide range of social justice issues.

Sheen has been arrested so many times for acts of civil disobedience — for peace, against nuclear weapons — that he stopped counting after 66.

As for Sister Rose, in the early ‘90’s she saw the movie “Cry Freedom” about Stephen Biko in South Africa. Then she watched “Eyes on the Prize,” the PBS series on civil rights. Those were life-changers for her.

“I realized we were printing prayer books and lives of the saints and the teachings of the pope but we’re also called to comment on the culture that is created by this world of communication and the values it generates. We’re always trying to create a circle of protection for the Church. God doesn’t need that. Pope Francis is saying that. God needs us to go out, not to stay in.”

Sr. Rose believes that as followers of Christ we have a positive obligation to speak out on issues — the prison industry, military recruiting in poor neighborhoods, the mania for gun ownership — that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ.

“There are different ways of speaking. Sometimes you speak out physically, by being on the line. That’s Martin Sheen’s way. My way of speaking out is to write film reviews and to post articles of interest ….

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING Heather King’s article at THE TIDINGS, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles


I first heard Heather King speak last year at the Catholic Media Conference in Charlotte, NC, and was moved to tears by her story. I feel honored that The Tidings asked her to interview me and to write about “Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way.” Thank you, Heather!

Heather King, author @ShirtOfFire
Heather King, author @ShirtOfFire
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