Photo: Courtesy of ABC

Father Donald Calloway, MIC, (right) is interviewed by ABC reporter Bill Weir for a television special on the Virgin Mary.

Father Donald Is Interviewed on ABC

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By Felix Carroll (Jul 19, 2011)
God can touch hearts no matter what — including through things that are imperfect.

That's the conclusion of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, who was interviewed for the ABC news magazine program "Primetime Nightline," for a report on apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The report, which aired last Wednesday, at times veered from Church teachings, but overall, said Fr. Donald, it may have reached an audience who otherwise may not have known of Mary and her role as intercessor.

The program was titled "The Miracle Mysteries," the second in a five-part summer series called "Beyond Belief." It's available for viewing online.

In it, ABC reporter Bill Weir travels to places where people claim to have seen the Virgin Mary. He calls his objective a "global quest to find the most beloved woman in the history of the world."

He says, "We're looking for the original pop star tonight, the one who said 'Let it be' long before the Beatles and inspired more music, artwork and literature than any hundred women combined.

"She came to fame as a Jewish teenage mother, yet she is referred by Muslims, Catholics and Protestants as the woman who nursed the Son of God. ... Though she's been dead for over 2,000 years, more people have seen Mary in the last century than at any other time. She appears to them in big cities, small villages, caves, fields ..."

Father Donald, a popular speaker and author of No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy (Marian Press), was one of two Catholic clergymen interviewed. The other was Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., who last year declared that reported Marian apparitions in Champion, Wis., in 1859 were "worthy of belief."

Also interviewed was Dr. Mark Miravalle, the well-respected professor of Theology and Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio).

No surprise that skeptics of Marian apparitions were also interviewed.

Many in the Catholic blogosphere were angered by some assertions made in the piece, including that Mary was not a virgin and that she had other children. Another complaint is that too much focus was placed on the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje (which haven't yet been approved by the Church) while little emphasis was placed on more familiar apparition sites such as Lourdes, in France, and Fatima, in Portugal. No mention was made of the recent Church-approved apparitions in Kibeho, Rwanda, which began in 1981. In a series of apparitions to teenagers in that small village, the Blessed Mother spoke of rivers of blood and other gruesome images that many today regard as foreshadowing of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In Kibeho, as in Marian apparitions throughout the centuries, Mary's message to the world is to turn away from sin, pray, and turn in trust to her Son, Jesus.

"Obviously, I think there are some things [in the ABC program] that could have been improved upon," said Fr. Donald, whose degrees include a licentiate in sacred theology with a focus on Mariology. "Certainly there were some things that were wrong, theologically. "

Despite the program's shortcomings, said Fr. Donald, "I think it will pique the curiosity of some. For those who are well grounded in their faith, they're going to know what to expect from the mainstream media. But maybe for those who are on the fence or who are searching, it could be a positive."

He noted that on his Facebook page one woman wrote that if Jesus can heal a man by using spit and mud, "why can't He use ABC?"

"I was like 'Wow, that's a good comment,'" said Fr. Donald.

The producers sought out Fr. Donald whose reputation precedes him. He's a committed priest who surfs and bears witness to his love for Mary Immaculate. He's a powerful public speaker whose witness includes his dramatic conversion sparked by a book he found on Marian apparitions.

The ABC interview was done on a beach in La Jolla, Calif. The voice over introduced him as "a surfer whose passion for the perfect wave is nothing compared to his head-over-heels love for the Holy Mother."

The program gave a brief biography of Fr. Donald — how he began surfing as a military brat in the United States and Japan and how he abused drugs, was jailed, and kicked out of a foreign country. At a breaking point in his young life, he picked up a book in his parents' house about the Virgin Mary. "That began a radical change of life for me — a transformation," Fr. Donald says in the ABC interview. "I cut my long hair, cleaned up my act and became what I am today."

The voiceover says: "Today he is the Rev. Donald Calloway, the surfer priest."

When an ABC producer first contacted him two months ago, Fr. Donald said he was hesitant.

"I told them straight up that I don't really trust the mainstream media because I could say something and they could cut and splice it or have someone on the show saying the exact opposite as something I just said and make it one priest against another," Fr. Donald says. "They said, 'Well, don't you want to be part of people learning about the Virgin Mary?'' I said 'Of course, but I want them to learn of the Virgin Mary as the Church teaches.'

"But then they told me some of the people they were going to be interviewing," Fr. Donald said, "like Bishop Ricken, and he's great, and then Dr. Mark Miravalle, and I agreed to be interviewed.

"They were putting the program together quickly, so we met out in California, and that's when they said they wouldn't mind getting some surfing clips, and I said 'OK, we can do that.'"

The host, Bill Weir, and Fr. Donald met at the beach, did the interview, then the two were filmed surfing together. The broadcast included footage of Fr. Donald surfing as well as some memorable moments, including him sharing: "When I paddle out, I say a Hail Mary. ... On some of my boards, I actually have little sayings about her ... to keep the sharks away."

Father Donald notes that no mention was made in the broadcast of Catholic teaching on Marian apparitions. Since such apparitions constitute "private revelation" as opposed to the "public revelation" found in Scripture, Catholics aren't obligated to believe in them.

But of course many do, including Fr. Donald.

"When times are tough," he says, "God allows her to come to the Earth to discipline, correct and instruct her children. I think that's what we're seeing in modern times with the many apparitions, which have borne so much fruit for Christ and His Church."

For more information on Father Donald Calloway, MIC, please visit

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Mary Tullius - Jul 19, 2011

Thank you Felix. I watched this program on the Internet and had the same questions or concerns you address here. I think people who know the Catechism won't be swayed by the flaws in the piece and hopefully, Fr. Don is right and some others will seek out more information and learn (more accurately) what Catholics believe about our Mother in heaven.

Ileana - Jul 19, 2011

Fr. Calloway's love for Our Lady really came through in his interview. It was awesome to see him on prime time TV sharing his faith in such a joyful and humble manner. Thank you for the article!

A servant of Jesus and Mary - Jul 19, 2011

You go Fr. Calloway!!!!

Thank your for being a witnessing to God's goodness, love, and patience.

May God bless you and Mary keep you.

Deacon Bob - Jul 19, 2011

Great article again Felix! Always worth reading.

Fr. Brat! Good witness for ABC and the world!
A you are Available
B Be cause
C you Care

I believe that you would agree that for centuries Our Heaven Mother has been instructing and warning us and we have not truly listen. But, Thank Our Good and Merciful God you listened! Let us continue to pray, love and support all our priests.
God's Blessings! B&M

Claudia Rocha - Jul 20, 2011

I watched the ABC interview and I must say I was proud to be a part of the catholic family Fr. Don belongs to. Although portions of the show made me crinch,I believe that Our Lady touched a few hearts out there. She touched mine and I already love her! Thank you

Leonard Nugent - Aug 16, 2011

The seers claim that the blessed virgin Mary has told them August 5th is her "real birthday". The fact that the Holy Mother of God has engaged these seers in a game of mystical trivial pursuit is the most mystifying thing about it

David Murray - Jul 6, 2015

Local Bishop Peric of Medjugorje "My conviction and my position is not only non constat de supernaturalitate, but likewise, constat de non supernaturalitate of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje"