The Catholic church has come under a lot of fire over the past few years. Mental images of aging sleazy priests and young choirboys, or elderly white robed gentleman riding around in Pope-mobiles are what many define the Catholic church as being.

Then we meet Justin Fatica! This guy is a fireball, when Justin takes the stage, there is no doubt who the star is, and I use the word ‘stage’ loosely, everywhere is his stage! He is 27 years old, has a very checkered background, is a cross between professional wrestler and street thug, gives as good as he gets, and is bound and determined to make a difference in the world. He has started his own Catholic ministry ‘Hard As Nails’, which is aimed at teenagers.

Unordained, and I am sure, unloved, by the mainstream Catholic church, there is so much fire in this young man that he is probably contributing to the global warming problem! HBO Documentaries spent some time following Justin as he bangs and crashes his way into the hearts of the young.

There are no Hail Mary’s or rubbing of Rosaries offered to one young sinner, it’s workouts at the gym three times a week.

Interestingly enough Justin is not a street kid turned good, he comes from an affluent family who own a property on the shoreline of Lake Erie that is to die for. Maybe it is that wealth that in its own way that has helped create this firebrand. As a teenager he definitely made some poor choices, at the tender age of 17 he joined Fatherhood. Oh, not that sort, not the religious sort, the getting a girl pregnant sort. He has never seen the child, he doesn’t know even today if the child lived, if it is a boy or girl, living with the mother, or an adoption family.

This was the big wake up call for Justin. Overnight he changed from being the ‘Bad’ Tasmanian Devil, with mayhem on his mind, he changed to the ‘good’ Tasmanian Devil, he still has mayhem on his mind, but now that mayhem is aimed at redemption. And he has traveled the country preaching his ideas.

No subject is taboo, Justin just plows ahead, he welcomes detractors, and gives as good as he gets. In Hard As Nails we get to see a number of verbal battles, the gloves are off, and if you have sensitive ears the language may be a little raunchy, but it sure is entertaining!

If you are a card carrying, dues paid up, member of the the National Union Of Catholic Priests (or whatever they call themselves), and you are planning on watching this program, I strongly suggest that you make sure you have plenty of PeptoBismol and Aspirins on hand! This is ‘must see’ television, it airs at 8pm ET/PT Monday 17 December on HBO.

Simon Barrett

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