Corner - Support and Appreciation
Actress Maria Bello Says Fr. Ray Jackson
Was Her Mentor
Article submitted by Ed & Dee Graham who sought
the author’s permission for our use.
(Excerpted from the Sunday edition of The
Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15, 2006, written by Carrie
Rickey, Inquirer Movie Critic. The excerpts are printed with Ms.
This star’s social life is more principles than parties.
Bello, a 1989 Villanova
graduate, was on her way to law school when she took a detour into
acting, during stints Off-Broadway and in ads as the Amstel Girl,
blazed a career path.
Her overnight success took 15 years. In 2004 she copped a Golden
Globe nomination as the hottie in The
Ms. Bello does have a 4-year-old son, Jackson, a big Eagles
fan. She and her son’s father, TV executive Dan McDermott,
are no longer a couple, but they are committed co-parents and see
each other daily.
Ms. Bello is a Philadelphia
Area woman, having spent 16 years in Catholic education, is from
a close knit family, and speaks of the man who changed her life.
Her parents, Kathy & Joe, “taught her that our insides
matter more than our outsides.” She attended Archbishop
Carroll HS a year ahead of Will Smith. Her mentor was an Augustinian
priest she met at Villanova University and for whom her son is named.
“Father Ray Jackson was a warrior for peace”, she
says of the late priest and professor who co-founded the university’s
Center for Peace and Justice. They met in class when Bello was 18
and Fr. Ray assigned an essay, “Who are your heroes?
Most of her classmates chose Madonna and Lee Iacocca. Bello caught
Fr. Ray’s attention by writing about Catholic social activist,
Dorothy Day and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Every day Father Ray would ask me, “How are you going
to serve?” Bello was on track to be a public-interest lawyer,
but during her senior year at Villanova, was bitten by the acting
bug when in drama class she improvised a Bob Dylanesque ballad.
“I thought acting was too selfish,” she recalls. “But
Father Ray reassured me that “you serve best by doing the
thing you love most”.
She did go to Manhattan after graduation to see if she could score
acting gigs. As she knocked around theater, Bello made time to co-found
an East Harlem arts and education program.
By 1995, when she was signed to the short-lived TV series Mr. and
Mrs. Smith, she was almost 30, an awkward age in a youth-worshipping
industry. But her flint and fire got her a recurring role on ER
the following year, which led to her screen work.
Her connectedness to family makes Bello grieve that Father Ray
is no longer here. “I didn’t tell him enough how he
formed and transformed my life.” She says, brown eyes brimming
“But he’s with me every day when I ask myself how
to balance my call to acting with my call to service”
Fr. Ray Jackson
Born Dec 26, 1933
U.S. Marines (Sgt.) 1952 - 1956
Ordained Jan 30, 1965
Died Jan 5, 1997 - Brain Tumor
Positions held in M.E.: Team priest for 15 years; Section 3 Section
Coordinator; twice Philadelphia Area Coordinator
Passionate about Peace and Justice for All
Interest: Chess, Sports, Fishing, The 4 Basic Food groups - Scotch,
Peanuts, Doughnuts and Coffee
For additional information about Fr. Ray, please see his autobiography
under Priest’s Corner/Biographies/Journey
of a Priest
here for a printable version (PDF, 21KB)