US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Stephen Colbert guest stars as Catholic priest on 'The Mindy Project'

By Sarah Butler Schueller | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Last night's episode of FOX sitcom The Mindy Project featured comedian Stephen Colbert as "Father Michael O'Donnell"—a reformed leather jacket-wearing Catholic priest who sends spaghetti emojis and wants to say Mass in Latin.
In the episode, "Confessions of a Catho-holic," Staten Island Italian Catholic Danny (Chris Messina) tries to hide the truth about his self-proclaimed Hindu "immortal-or-something" girlfriend, Mindy (Mindy Kaling)—especially that she lives with him and is also pregnant with their child—from Colbert’s Father Michael. Mindy (who at Danny's prompting lists the apostles as John, Paul, George, Bongo, and Mary Margarine) soon finds herself reluctantly attending Mass with him, over which Colbert's priest presides.
Mindy: I so enjoyed your speech!
Father Michael: Sermon.
Mindy: It was the best part of the show!
Father Michael: Mass.
It's all perfect.
This isn't the first time Mindy writers have managed to write in some satirical jabs at Catholics. Danny, who refers to "Pope Frank" and says things like "Jesus didn't have a roommate, he lived with his Ma!" is a guilt-ridden divorced Catholic who is vocal about his stellar Mass attendance. But this is certainly the first episode plot devoted entirely to Danny's Catholicism. The writers offer some interesting commentary on today's church as Mindy amusingly describes the aging congregation as “a crypt-keeper's wedding" and tells fervent Father Michael “You’ve gots to chill, amigo," which seems like a jab at more than just Colbert's Catholic character.
Father Michael is the first post-Report role for the now-bearded Colbert, and it's especially fitting as he's often vocal about his Catholic faith. His Mindy Project character actually seems a bit like the Catholic priest version of his Colbert Report fictionalized persona, as he calls Mindy and Danny's cohabited apartment "the lair of Lucifer" and tries to guilt Danny into offering him a ride home after he eats dinner at their apartment ("Let’s get some dessert, play some board games. I’m a priest. This is my crack!”).
Script writer Jack Burditt successfully fills the episode with tons of Mindy's oh-so-quotable one-liners (“The New Testament? There’s a sequel to the Bible but not Gone Girl?”). She also refers to Father Michael as "friar" and "your magistrate" before snapping some selfies with nuns. And Colbert's Father Michael has his fair share of great one-liners as well. Saying Mass in Latin, he reminds the seemingly startled congregation that "by next Sunday, you should all know Latin!"
We can only hope he returns in next week's episode to make sure.