Playing a Priest on TV No Stretch for Gretsch –

Priests have been getting a lot of bad press lately. As Bill Maher said the other night on Real Time about the Pope, “You know your reign’s been tainted when you long for the days when people just thought you were a Nazi.”
Which sort of brings us to this story I wrote for The Canadian Press last week. It’s about Joel Gretsch (right), who plays Father Jack on V (tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC and /A).
I spoke with Gretsch last month in Los Angeles at a Warner Bros. Int’l TV press event. Playing a priest on TV clearly meant more than just putting on a collar to the 46-year-old actor, who grew up in St. Paul’s, Minnesota, and had nothing but good things to say about the priests who ran a local leadership camp he attended.
His comments made me think about some of the good guys who provided genuine leadership back at my Catholic high school in Etobicoke, men like Fr. John Redmond and especially, for me, Fr. Mike Goetz (both long gone, with schools named after them). They didn’t run around chasing aliens like Gretsch’s Father Jack does on V, but, back at Michael Power, they did try to show us that goodness, discipline and knowledge were more than words on a school slogan.
Gretsch said he had a hard time talking about playing a priest on TV and I think I understood where he was coming from. Father Jack is just a character on a sci-fi show but hats off to Gretsch and the writer/producers for giving the guy some dimension and not playing to the lurid headlines that haunt a lot of good priests today.

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