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Father Matthew Munoz

10/21/2011

One of Hollywood’s greatest actors has a connection to Family Theater Productions. Father Matthew Munoz who spoke at a Prayer and Pasta event a few years back was recently highlighted in a story by Catholic News Service. The story reminded Father Willy of John Wayne’s conversion to Catholicism and the connection to a Holy Cross Priest.

Father Munoz is the grandson of the legendary actor John Wayne, who he knew simply as “granddaddy”. Father Munoz was only 14 years old when his grandfather died of cancer in 1979. In his lifetime, the man known as “TheDuke” won three Oscars, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded posthumously). Despite all those achievements, Father Munoz is most proud of his granddaddy’s conversion to the Catholic faith.

His grandmother, who was Catholic introduced “The Duke” to the faith. Wayne was also influenced by the Archbishop of Panama, Archbishop Tomas Clavel, who gradually encouraged Wayne. The Archbishop ended up in California after being exiled from Panama after the government changed hands. By the time Wayne agreed to get baptized Archbishop Clavel was too ill to travel. So he called on his successor in Panama, who just happened to be a Holy Cross priest, Archbishop Mark McGrath, CSC.

Father Munoz says his mother and uncle were there to witness Wayne’s baptism. He adds that his grandfather did express regret about not becoming Catholic earlier because of “his busy life”. Father Munoz sums up his grandfather’s values as a triumvirate: “God coming first, then family, then country.” Father Munoz believes those are values very much needed in Hollywood today. Father Matthew Munoz is a priest in the Diocese of Orange County.