Actor Shia LaBeouf, known for his off-screen troubles as well as his film roles, has converted to Catholicism after being confirmed on New Year’s Eve at a Mass presided over by Capuchin Franciscan friars.
The Capuchin Franciscans-Western American Province announced the news on its Facebook site where it posted images of a smiling LeBeouf receiving Communion, kneeling with his eyes shut in prayer at Mass and hugging friars who attended the ceremony.
The sacramental ceremony was held at Old Mission Santa Inés Parish in Solvang, California, the same friary where LaBeouf — who has acknowledged alcoholism and faced abuse allegations — trained for months for his role as one of Italy’s best-known and most revered saints in the 2022 film, "Padre Pio."
"The Capuchin Franciscan friars are overjoyed to welcome him into the fold and witness his deep commitment to his faith journey," the Catholic religious order said.
LaBeouf "has embarked on a profound spiritual journey that has led him to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church," the order said. "His decision to fully enter the Church is a testament to his sincere desire to grow in his relationship with God and live out the Gospel values."
Donna Pescow as "Eileen Stevens", Tom Virtue as "Steve Stevens", Shia LaBeouf as "Louis Stevens", Christy Carlson Romano as "Ren Stevens", Nick Spano as "Donnie Stevens" and Steven Anthony Lawrence as "Beans" on "Even Stevens" on the Disney Channel.
LaBeouf first gained fame as a teenager on the Disney Channel show "Even Stevens," and is best known for his roles in 2007′s "Transformers" and in 2008′s "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull." He also starred in the 2019 film "The Peanut Butter Falcon."
He has had several run-ins with the law during his career, including a 2017 New York City arrest for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct that was captured on a livestreamed video. He was sent to court-mandated rehabilitation.
LaBeouf, who has been accused by a former girlfriend of abuse, spent months in the California friary preparing for his role in "Padre Pio."
The actor has said the chance to play the mystic Capuchin monk best known for having displayed the "stigmata" wounds of Christ — he bled from his hands, feet and sides — was a miracle for him personally.
LaBeouf said last year in an interview with Bishop Robert Barron, of the Winona-Rochester diocese in Minnesota, that he was agnostic before turning to Catholicism. He said he had a bar mitzvah as a 13-year-old boy but never embraced the Jewish faith.
Barron, in an email to The Associated Press on Friday, described LaBeouf's conversion as "a testament to God’s grace."
"God seems to specialize in finding the lost," Barron wrote. "Jesus himself said, ‘I have come not for the righteous but for sinners.’ So, forgiveness is always available; redemption is always possible."
LaBeouf’s confirmation sponsor, Capuchin friar Brother Alexander Rodriguez, told the AP that LaBeouf "would not have become a Catholic if he had not gone through the personal difficulties and sins that we know about."
"It is because of his sufferings that he’s gone through that he was able to come to know God, especially with playing the part of Padre Pio," the friar said in a telephone interview.
Padre Pio died in 1968 and was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, going on to become one of the most popular saints in Italy, the U.S. and beyond.
The Capuchin Friars Minor is a Catholic religious order of men inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi. On its site they say their life mission is to serve the poor and live the Gospel "through fraternity, simplicity, and contemplative prayer."
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