News & Commentary

‘Padre Pio’ actor Shia LaBeouf fully enters the Catholic Church New Year’s Eve

Shia LaBeouf stars in the 2023 film "Padre Pio." LaBeouf entered into full communion with the Catholic Church after receiving the sacrament of confirmation on Dec. 31, 2023. (OSV News photo/Gravitas Ventures)

(OSV News) — An actor who recently portrayed a beloved saint on screen has now fully come into the Catholic Church in real life.

Shia LaBeouf, a Hollywood veteran and star of director Abel Ferrara’s film “Padre Pio,” received the sacrament of confirmation, completing his initiation into the Catholic faith, during the New Year holiday weekend, according to announcements posted Jan. 2 to Facebook and Instagram by the Capuchin Franciscans’ Western American Province.

The friars posted several pictures of a smiling LaBeouf with the friars and Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, who had previously interviewed the actor through his Word on Fire apostolate.

Capuchin Father Joseph Seraphin Dederick, the provincial, told OSV News that Bishop Barron administered the sacrament to LaBeouf at the Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, California, on Dec. 31.

OSV News has reached out to the Capuchins’ Western American Province and Bishop Barron for comment.

“We are thrilled to share that our dear friend Shia LaBeouf has fully entered the Church this past weekend through the sacrament of confirmation!” the friars said in their posts, adding that they “are overjoyed to welcome him into the fold and witness his deep commitment to his faith journey.”

LaBoeuf developed both working and personal relationships with the friars while researching his role in “Padre Pio.”

Speaking to OSV News in May, LaBeouf said he “wasn’t even trying to make movies” when Ferrara approached him about the role.

The acclaimed 37-year-old actor — whose Emmy-winning career as a kid on the Disney Channel blossomed into big-screen success — found himself “totally lost” after his inner demons led to partying, work conflicts and run-ins with the law.

“I was wandering around, living in my truck,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in acting anymore.”

As LaBeouf began confronting his personal issues, Ferrara tapped him for “Padre Pio,” a saint to whom the Bronx-born director — best known for his gritty cinematic takes on the underworld — felt himself “drawn.”

While researching the film, LaBeouf met Brother Alexander Rodriguez, a Capuchin Franciscan who is assistant vocation director at the order’s Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, California.

Soon LaBeouf was asking about more than one of the congregation’s most beloved saints.

“Shia was looking to know about Padre Pio, and then delved into the faith,” Brother Alexander told OSV News in May. “He got into RCIA (referring to the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults). The friars and I were helping to catechize him.”

LaBeouf told OSV News at the time “(learning) how to pray the rosary” brought a “tangible relief” that he had previously sought through drugs, alcohol and life in the fast lane.

The lessons continued as Brother Alexander accompanied LaBeouf to Italy for filming, with the Capuchin providing technical assistance for the project while appearing in the movie as Padre Pio’s fellow Capuchin and spiritual adviser.

“I fell in love with Christ,” LaBeouf told OSV News in May.

Now the actor, “known for his incredible talent and passion in the entertainment industry, has embarked on a profound spiritual journey that has led him to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the Capuchin friars wrote in their Jan. 2 Facebook and Instagram posts. “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.”

The friars added, “As Capuchin Franciscans, we believe in the transformative power of faith and the incredible impact it can have on one’s life. We are humbled and grateful to walk alongside Shia as he takes this important step in his spiritual journey.

“We invite you to join us in celebrating this momentous occasion and to keep Shia LaBeouf in your prayers as he continues to deepen his faith and seek God’s guidance in his life,” the friars said. “May his example inspire others to explore their own spiritual paths and find solace in the loving embrace of the Church.”

By Gina Christian | OSV News