marianist.com/donate • 11 ACT ONE — Scene one: A meteoric rise SETTING: May 1958. A classroom at Chaminade High School (now Chaminade Julienne), Dayton, Ohio, where a Sodality Council (faith formation group) is in progress. Marianist Father Tom Schroer, then a sophomore at Chaminade, hears a senior named Ramón Estévez make a surprising announcement. “He said he was going to New York after graduation to become an actor,” says Father Tom. “I thought, ‘wow,’ what are the chances of him making it?” Seven years later would dispel any doubts. Father John Civille, a high school classmate of Ramón’s and now a diocesan priest in Middletown, Ohio, recalls attending a Broadway play in 1965 called “The Subject Was Roses” in which Ramón played a leading role. The play was wildly successful, winning a Pulitzer Prize and two Tony Awards and catapulted the young star, who by now had adopted the stage name Martin Sheen, into the limelight. “I went backstage to see him afterward,” says Father John, who is the brother of the late Sue Wesselkamper, former president of Chaminade University of Honolulu. “At one point, I asked him, ‘What’s it like doing the same play, saying the same lines, night after night?’” His response — the candor and genuineness for which he is known — was revealing. “He said that prior to this role, and for so long, he’d walked the streets hungry. He’d never complain if he got a big part,” says Father John. Although deeply grateful for his meteoric rise in the acting world, it would take another 15 years before Martin Sheen’s descent into alcohol, depression and near-death would force him to face his emptiness and return him to his faith, a conversion that brought him full circle to his Catholic upbringing and a life of social activism. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT AND MARKETING DIVISION In 2015, Martin Sheen returned to Ohio to receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from University of Dayton. “High school was a time of dreams, when everything felt possible and right on the brink of unfolding. It also was a time of strong community ties. At my school, in the neighborhood, at home, I knew I was part of something larger than myself, something solid and good.” — Martin Sheen, from “Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and a Son”