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The Calling

A documentary by David Ranghelli about commitment to God, loyalty to family and the faith to discover God’s will. The Calling offers powerful lessons for Christians about the cost of discipleship.

  • Item 501502D
  • Region: All
  • Media Type: DVD
  • Running Time: 1 hr. 17 mins.
Retail: $19.99
Price: $14.99
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  • Best Documentary

    Reel Rasquache Art and Film Festival 2011

  • Best Documentary Feature

    Costa Rica International Film Festival 2010

  • Best International Documentary

    7th Queens International Film Festival 2009

  • Special Mention: Cinematic Achievement

    4th Gasparilla International Film Festival 2010


Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” The Calling reveals candid portraits of three people who are drawn to Catholic religious life. Orlando Castillo is a young man from a prosperous family who wishes to ‘live simply’ and serve the poor despite his parents' reservations. Mother Mary Elizabeth is a woman torn between her call and the emotional needs of her family. Father Phillip Scott is a priest striving to establish a fledgling mission in his native country of Peru. As their stories unfold, we see the blessings as well as the challenges that their ministries entail. This is a film about commitment to God, loyalty to family, and the faith to discover God’s will. The Calling offers powerful lessons for Christians about the cost of discipleship. Fullscreen.

This critically acclaimed film was called “ a beautiful…spiritual meditation” by Academy Award winner, Barbara Kopple.

DVD Special Features:
-DVD includes both feature version (77 mins.) and 60 minute version. 60 minute version has optional Spanish subtitles.
-Extended Director's Cut
-DVD Additional Sequences
-Photo Gallery
-Director's Commentaries

Editorial Reviews

David A. Ranghelli's documentary focuses on three subjects who have answered a religious calling. Father Philip Scott moves what he calls The Family of Jesus the Healer from his home diocese of St. Petersburg in Tampa, FL, to Chaclacayo, Peru, to address the local needs of the poor. Orlando Castillo, a recent Catholic high school graduate, becomes a volunteer and decides to undertake a probationary novitiate as preparation for eventual ordination as a priest. And a divorced woman with two grown daughters takes the veil as Mother Mary Elizabeth. The latter two struggle with questions about their choices. Castillo must deal with the concerns of his well-to-do parents, who worry about being unable to contact their son in South America, especially since his grandmother is ailing. And Mary Elizabeth must confront the reality of separation from her children, who find it difficult to accept her absence. Featuring both the full-length and an abridged hour-long broadcast version of the documentary, DVD extras include audio commentary by Ranghelli, brief segments in which the three subjects discuss the "call of God," and a photo gallery. Offering a quietly insightful perspective on the religious vocation, this is recommended.

Diocesan priest Philip Scott felt a call from God to minister to the people of his native Peru. In this moving documentary, he is joined by Mother Mary Elizabeth, a widowed mother, and Orlando Castillo, a young man recently out of college, both of whom struggle with the meaning of the call and the tensions that arise as they prepare to leave their families, who themselves are trying to understand. There are many sensitively presented intimate moments between Fr. Scott and the others, and between Orlando and his parents and Mother Mary Elizabeth and her daughters. After much introspection, Orlando completes novitiate and makes his vows; Mother Mary Elizabeth takes a leave of absence to spend time with her daughters and decides not to return. The viewer comes to know and care for these three as they try to discern God's will for them. VERDICT a compelling portrait of people recognizing God's call. Never sinking to the level of voyeurism, this film will appeal to all who wonder about how we determine God's will in our lives. — Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

In The Calling, filmmaker David Ranghelli focuses on the struggles involved in responding to a religious vocation. This absorbing documenary follows a young male novice and a mother superior, both of whom belong to a small community called The Family of Jesus the Healer.

Ranghelli turns his camera on this recently established, traditionally inclined group of priests, brothers, and sisters at an interesting moment, just as their founder, Father Philip Scott, announces his prayer-based decision to relocate them from Tampa, FL, to Peru to serve that country's poor.

For Tampa native Orlando Castillo, a young man from a prosperous background who wishes to "live simply," and who seeks spiritual formation from Father Scott as he discerns a vocation to the priesthood, this move adds a further strain to an already difficult situation. As frank interviews with them show, Castillo's parents — his father in particular — have serious reservations about the life their son is embracing.

The Castillos are especially uncomfortable with the physical and emotional distance from them that Orlando's membership in the community entails. Not only does he join in the move to a dusty, poverty-plagued village on the outskirts of Lima, but the rules of his postulancy, as established by Father Scott, allow him to write letters to his family, but not to call or e-mail them.

Also feeling the strain of separation is Mother Mary Elizabeth, the parent of two grown daughters who entered religious life after the annulment of her marriage. Although she is Father Scott's closest collaborator in supervising the life of the Family of Jesus the Healer, she finds the increased isolation from her children and grandchildren difficult to accept, and her daughters are vocal in expressing their aggrieved sense of loss.

Insightful and probing, the narrative is also marked by some humorous moments, as when Orlando announces that it was after seeing the film Spider-Man that he was determined to become a priest. Why? Because, like Spider-Man, priests have superpowers: They can say Mass and hear confessions. And, like the web-shooting hero and protector of the innocent, a priest's mission doesn't allow for having a girlfriend.

An emotional highpoint comes with the liturgy at which Orlando makes his preliminary vows and dons the community's habit for the first time. Amid tears and obviously conflicted feelings, Orlando's father silently surrenders his son to God and to his newfound spiritual relatives.

As that scene demonstrates, Ranghelli's moving study of sacred aspirations and of the courageous commitment required to fulfill them is all the more effective for not glossing over the interior cost a generous answer to God's summons can sometimes exact. While the ultimate decisions made by the people he chronicles vary, this remains both an uplifting story for a general audience and an excellent tool for realistic vocations work.

The film contains a brief discussion regarding chastity. The Catholic News Service classsification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

In his documentary The Calling, independent filmmaker David Ranghelli has carefully, thoroughly, and with great authenticity portrayed the call to religious life to a particular community. Capturing the human emotions that interplay in the decision each individual makes, Mr. Ranghelli follows two entrants and their consequent struggles. This film focuses on a newer community that includes both men and women. It is an entrée to rich reflection and discussion about the very essence of religious life and God's call in any person's life. Vocation ministers and young adults alike will find much to explore and learn, even if they might find fault with aspects of this very human community.

The film introduces viewers to Mother Mary Elizabeth, he superior of the community, previously married and the mother of two adult daughters, who are now married with children. Then there is Orlando, only son of a doctor and his wife, Cecilia. Orlando is 21 years old and feeling called to follow Jesus with great sincerity of purpose. He is enamored of the founder, Father Philip, and wants to be mentored by him in his spiritual life.

The community—The Family of Jesus the Healer—begins in Tampa, but because of a call from God, Father Philip is moved to "return to his native country," Peru, to work with the poor. Thus begins the fledgling community's struggles and questions. Through Mother Mary Elizabeth we hear the "double jeopardy" of having just come to some resolution of the abandonment felt by her daughters upon her entrance to religious life, and now she senses a new abandonment through the greater distance that seems to further the alienation.

With Orlando we hear the tension of trying desperately to do "God's will" and the anxiety of separation from those he loves and who love him. We see how his parents, both of Nicaraguan heritage, are involved in his life decision, and we see their desire to support him in what appears to be, at least for the present, a place of joy and contentment. Nevertheless, we hear Orlando articulate the questions that arise in him. Why can he not keep in touch with his family through e-mail or phone contact while Father Philip is able to do so? What is he to do with his money? His struggles are clearly stated about letting go of all that he had, of trusting God and needing to "test out" the life to which he feels called.

Scene after scene we can empathize with the heartwrenching that each of Orlando's and Mother Mary Elizabeth's family members feel. We also see the tears of Orlando and Mother Mary Elizabeth coupled with the potent words that come from their own hearts, genuinely seeking clarity from God. Father Philip responds time after time with words, which although sincere, seem to stem from his own spirituality based on a desire to sacrifice and live with the poor, and a conviction that God desires us to struggle in life.

True to its title, The Calling indeed allows viewers to plumb the depths of the experience of call.

I received a DVD of the film The Calling, a documentary by David Ranghelli, just before Thanksgiving. I was intrigued by the topic and the subtitle, "Life is a calling, what is yours?"

The Calling is a masterpiece. From the beginning scene this film melted away my cynicism, rejuvenated my weary soul, and restored within me the hope of the season. It is a must gift for every Christmas list. More than a movie; it is an invitation to love and an encounter with the God who is Love. Watching this film, I was repeatedly moved to prayer, tears, repentance, and reflection on the meaning of life and the beauty of the Christian vocation.

David RA Ranghelli, Chuck Schultz, Trey Burvant, and all involved with The Calling have created such an "Epiphany of Beauty" in making this film. I thank them for giving this weary deacon the "little Christmas" I need. I encourage everyone who reads this review to watch the film and discover—or rediscover—your own calling. The film revolves around the meaning of "vocation," a word whose etymology in the Latin gives us the essence of the film's claim that everyone has been summoned, called by God. Further, that we all are able to "hear" His voice if we learn to listen and live to respond.

Father Philip Scott is a priest in Tampa, Florida. He is a magnanimous, loving, charismatic priest whose genuine relationship with God is evident from the moment the viewer first meets him in this film. He is the founder of a new religious community in the Catholic Church called "The Family of Jesus the Healer." Fr. Philip communicates the love of a living God in his lifestyle of poured-out sacrificial love for others. He is a "man's man" and a "priest's priest." Everything about this man draws you to the One whom he serves. His humor, his empathy, his compassion, his wisdom, his dynamic faith, strength of conviction, and his infectious smile communicate the truth he proclaims, that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and is the meaning of life itself for every man, woman, and child created in His image.

Father Philip lives as a Christian, a follower of the living Jesus Christ. He really believes that Jesus continues His redemptive mission in the lives of His followers as they live their vocation within the Body of Christ, the Church. Because of this kind of living faith, he is able to be a spiritual father to the members of the religious community he founded. He bears the life of the Risen Lord for others. At one point in the film, Father Philip explains, "every man at his deepest level is a father." It becomes clear as the viewer watches this priest live his vocation why Catholic and Orthodox Christians call priests "father."

Father Philip Scott heard the Lord call him, in these words, "My son, return to your country of origin." That country is Peru, and the priest intends to move his missionary community there in obedience to the Lord. As has happened through over two millennia of Church history, others drawn to Jesus through this man's compellingly Christian way of life have joined him in this new religious community called "The Family of Jesus the Healer." The film focuses on the move of the community to Peru, their missionary work with the poor, and the continuing challenges faced by the central characters in living out their own Christian vocation or "calling."

In Father Philip's words, responding to a calling is not only about moving away from something, but about moving toward Someone. It is in that truth that we find the message of this film, everyone has a calling! The Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church reemphasized this teaching. It is found at the heart of the Gospels and was the clear teaching of the Early Church. Every baptized Christian is called to hear God's voice! We all have a "vocation."

In this masterpiece of filmmaking, this "epiphany of beauty," this message is communicated in the lives of all of the main characters. Priesthood, religious life, marriage, and parenthood are all, when lived as a response to "the calling," a path to holiness. They are a way of following the Lord Jesus Christ and experiencing the fullness of human flourishing and true happiness.

The Calling is more than a beautiful film; it is an invitation to find the meaning of human existence. Buy the DVD for your own Christmas present! Then buy it for everyone you love. Give them all the gift of finding their own calling. The Calling is a filmmaking masterpiece which moves hearts to say "yes" to the Lord.

The Calling is a very sincere and heartfelt film about the call to religious life and to ministry.

The film works well not only as a documentary but as providing a narrative, akin to a feature film. There are interviews as well as scenes focusing on the work of the central characters as well as the reflections on their life and the calling.

The director has followed three people from the late 1990s into the middle of the next decade. They are all from Tampa, Florida. The film opens with a parish priest, Father Philip Scott, preaching to his congregation. However, Fr Scott is originally from Peru and feels that he is called to return there. But he also feels called to establish a new religious congregation, the Family of Jesus, Healer.

Elizabeth, a mother of two adult children in the parish discerns her calling to join him in Peru. She becomes the superior of the community of nuns who work with Father Scott. She draws on her experience of marriage and motherhood to work not only with the sisters but with the poor, especially the women, of the impoverished village where the parish has been set up.

The third person is Orlando, a 21 year old young man, originally from Nicaragua, but who has grown up in a gated community in Tampa and educated there. A good friend of Father Scott, he decides to spend six months in Peru to discern whether this is where God is calling him to live and work.

The film establishes the three characters quickly and quite vividly. They provide strong screen personalities. The scene then moves to Peru, showing the three working there amongst the poor. There is also up a community of men as well as of women. There is camaraderie amongst the religious and a great deal of detail of the local work with people.

The new order is somewhat traditional in its style, especially with the religious habit, prayer patterns. However, Fr Scott and Orlando move amongst the people in the village quite freely, in a more relaxed style then do the sisters.

The drama of vocation is played out for each of the three characters. There are many interviews with Father Scott, glimpses of his work and interaction with the people. He is a great enthusiast. Orlando is at first frustrated then gradually becomes used to the village, the work, the requirements of religious life. However, there are several scenes with his parents, especially his doctor father who does not entirely approve. They visit him in the village and get a firsthand experience of his life. After the six months, he decides to continue with his vocation, begin his novitiate, receive his habit. His parents are present.

But there is much more drama with Mother Elizabeth. Her two daughters put a great deal of pressure on her to be with them and with their children. They make a strong case for the mother to be with them. Elizabeth returns several times with Father Scott to the parish in Tampa to promote the missions. She visits her children, reflects on their feelings, and ultimately decides to take a year’s leave of absence to discern whether she should stay in the United States.

With audience interest in the characters, with the continuing story of their work and the discernment, the film engages the audience. It also offers the opportunity for the audience to reflect on God’s presence in people’s lives, the unique experience that is a call and that has its demands, despite other people’s questioning or disapproval. It does show the realities and difficulties of religious life and working with the poor and the necessary sacrifices. With the story of Elizabeth, it surprises the audience with her ultimate discernment to be with family.

There are three very interesting extras on the DVD. They give more background to the three characters, more interviews and commentary, often very personal. There are a good supplement to the film itself. In some of the segments there is more focus on the two sisters who had come from the United States, their background, work, the family connections, the decisions to join the order. In the film, they are quite subsidiary characters but come alive here.

The film runs for 80 minutes. The DVD also has a 60-minute version.

The three extras are: Feeling the Call, Knowing the Call, Living the Call.

The film is a credit to the director, David A. Ranghelli, who stayed with the characters over many years and helps the audience to get to know his friends as he got to know them.

It is a film for reflection and discussion

"An unblinking impartial look at religion and the sacrifices sustaining it."

Customer Reviews

- Amazing Film!

The Calling is one of those rare films that makes you think deeply about Christ's message...and how closely we come to truly living it out in our own lives. Get this it...share it with'll be transformed!

- A Poetic Spiritual Meditation.

"The Calling is a beautiful's a poetic, spiritual meditation."

- Perfect Gift!

My brother gave a copy of The Calling as a gift, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU to the filmmaker! I've seen many films about religion before...but nothing as real and heartfelt as this documentary. I encourage others to check it out...
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