SAM in Malibu!

SAM in Malibu!

Friar Jack Wintz and I recently had a week incredible even by the standards of St. Anthony Messenger! We went to California in search of two articles for future issues and found ourselves interviewing Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez and, later, Roma Downey.

Emilio and his father, Martin, have been making a film about a grieving father’s journey along Spain’s famous, centuries-old pilgrimage, El Camino de Santiago, after the death of his son along that same pilgrims’ route. Emilio wrote, directed and produced the film. The idea was first seeded by Martin, who took his grandson, Emilio’s son, to experience the pilgrimage (admittedly by car, since Martin had only a short break between The West Wing episodes). Emilio (whose son met and married a woman he met along the way!) talked his father into playing the lead role of a well-heeled dentist thrown into a spiritual crisis.

Since Jack and I were staying at the Franciscan’s Serra Retreat Center in Malibu (“We were there first!” claims “Ask a Franciscan” Fr. Pat) Martin and Emilio came to us for the interview! The retreat center is not far from their homes, and Martin knows it well. We had a relaxing stroll on the grounds, then sat in a quiet room for a 72-minute interview. Martin did a lot of the talking—with Emilio occasionally throwing a lighthearted glance my way (though he made his points from time to time!). I think maybe his father gets going on topics from time to time! You can see below a bit of the Flip video that Martin endured for the sake of promoting the film  (payback: you can find out more about the film at

My interview the next day with Roma Downey, famous for her role as Monica in Touched by an Angel, is another story, for another day. Both articles will be in upcoming issues of St. Anthony Messenger. Jack’s in October, mine in December. 

Here’s a video clip from our visit.


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).