Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor
Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives edited by John Feister; Franciscan Media; February 2013; 129 pp.; $14.99
Almost a year ago, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith appointed three U.S. bishops to oversee and administer the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for the next five years. The LCWR is made up of women who lead 80 percent of the 59,000 Catholic Sisters in the United States.
Surprised by this announcement, John Feister and his wife decided to make a list of all the Catholic Sisters who made a difference in their lives, and came up with thirty-five names. Feister, editor-in-chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine and managing editor of Catholic Update (a monthly newsletter published by Franciscan Media), contacted a number of people from around the country and asked them to write about how their lives were influenced by a Catholic Sister. The thirteen essays selected make up Feister's new book Thank You, Sisters.
Some of the contributors are well-known writers. Author and journalist Cokie Roberts and her husband Steven, authors Adriana Trigiani, Fr. James Rausch, and James Martin, SJ, and journalists Maureen Orth and Liz Scott Monaghan all wrote pieces on how they were inspired by Catholic Sisters. Their pieces tell of the gifts women religious have given us in areas such as education, social justice, and pastoral ministry. Sisters Helen Prejean, Joan Chittister, Dorothy Stang, and Thea Bowman are featured, along with numerous Sisters who haven't been in the public limelight.
Author Trigiani writes about Sisters in general who helped her grow as a person of faith. She has had experiences with Sisters from several orders. She states "Like good mothers, they live to serve us without any expectation of reciprocity."
Father Rausch tells about Sister Bernadette Kenny who helped establish the Health Wagon in Appalachia to serve the health care needs of the uninsured and underinsured in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Sister Bernadette has inspired countless people in that area, promoting the values of caring and compassion.
Father Maurice Nutt, who is an internationally known revival, mission, and retreat preacher, writes about three Sisters who helped him become an extraordinary preacher and preaching instructor. He gives them credit for forming and nurturing his faith and for his becoming a preacher.
Maureen Orth introduces us to Sister Janet Harris, who worked as a counselor and chaplain for the Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall. Sister Janet helped start a writing program for incarcerated juveniles and was instrumental in gaining the release of a young man whose murder conviction was overturned.
A short appendix and a brief biography of the contributors complete the book. The appendix, which lists seven Sisters who are recognized as saints, includes a short piece that describes the misunderstandings and obstacles the seven overcame in their lives of service.
Thank You, Sisters is a nice tribute to Catholic religious women. Readers will be inspired to reflect on how they have been influenced and enriched by Catholic Sisters who have dedicated their lives to teaching and living Jesus' gospel.