Died at 66 on Monday, November 28, actor Clarence Gilyard was known for having participated in various films and television productions, mainly the series “Walker, Texas Ranger”. He was much less so for his roles in faith-based films. Indeed, the artist was a committed Christian.
Of all the roles of Clarence Gilyard, it is that of the ranger James Trivette which marked his career the most.
In this family series, a team from the Texas Ranger Division, a police force in the Lone Star State, hunts down the bad guys in scenarios that have a particularity: good and evil are clearly identified, the heroes are not dark, tormented characters and Christian references are voiced by the main character played by Chuck Norris, mocked for his ability to pull it all off.
Values that were not yet those of Gilyard. It was in 1993, after seeing his marriage broken up by her adultery, a few months after the start of the series, that he went to church.
On the occasion of World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, the actor had testified of his spiritual experience from the Catholic News Agency:
“I had hit rock bottom, I had hit rock bottom… My life was pretty much about sex, drugs and rock and roll. »
It was during an aid program for dependent people that Gilyard, born into a Lutheran family, met a man who invited him to go to mass.
The son of a soldier who had moved around a lot went to church the following Sunday and left transformed, shaken during the consecration of the Eucharist:
“When everyone got down on their knees, it shook my world, it shook me. So, I went to see the priest on my way out and I said: Hey, can I come see you this week? »
Soon after, Gilyard began participating in the catechumenate in preparation for baptism and became a member of the Catholic Church on December 25, the day after his fortieth birthday.
A conversion followed by a choice of films and series in accordance with his faith
This conversion led him to carefully choose his roles and to participate as much as possible in the mass during his various shoots.
He has also been involved in Christian films, including the first two episodes of the “Left behind” trilogy, about the end of time, inspired by the novels of the Baptist pastor Tim LaHaye.
In the episode "Cornerstone" of the Catholic series "Into the Breach", Gilyard recounts his spiritual journey for a few minutes. If the critics did not appreciate these productions, judging them of low quality, the actor sought above all to share his belief.
Explaining how he lived his faith in the entertainment industry, Clarence Gilyard also mentioned his confrontation with secularism every time he left his acting trailer:
“I have to assess the situations I find myself in with respect to the script and the male-female relationships. I must also evaluate how I take care of myself mentally and spiritually to live as a healthy and spiritual person, like everyone else. »
According to him, everyone must ensure that they receive the spiritual nourishment they need to exercise their profession.
However, Gilyard refused to give out-of-the-box advice to Catholics, believing that he could only do so if asked by believers:
“I found that one of the things I have to fight against is this human arrogance that keeps us from allowing God to be God. We put him in a box, we give him a size that we think is the right one and then we speak for him. »
After his conversion, Gilyard assumed various responsibilities in Catholic activities. In 2018, he led the “Finding Vince 400”, the International Film Festival dedicated to Saint-Vincent de Paul, in Castel Gandolfo, city of residence of the popes.
The intention of the festival was to carry the message of Christian charity of Saint Vincent de Paul on the occasion of the quadricentenary of the movement founded by the Lazarist priest.
Gilyard was also involved in the production house "Holy Cross Family Ministries" where he put his acting experience at the service of low-income families before being invited to serve on the board of directors of WYD.