Thursday, April 11, 2013

What do Martin Sheen, Maureen Orth, James Martin, SJ, Cokie Roberts and I have in common?

"...heartily recommended"
—Martin Sheen 

"...a glorious tribute to these brave women"
—Joseph Girzone 

"...pure celebration and gratitude"
—Richard Rohr 

Now that I have your attention, I'd like to introduce you to the book lucky enough to have these reviews, one that I'm proud and grateful to be a part of: Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives,” (Franciscan Media, 2013).

The book is a collection of 12 essays by “some well-known and some less-known writers. Some are about unknown Sisters; others are about newsmakers.”

The featured essayists include: Cokie Roberts; Maureen Orth, award-winning journalist and special correspondent for Vanity Fair; Sr. Helen Prejean; James Martin, S.J.; best-selling author Adriana Trigiani—“and more!”

That’s where I come in. I’m one of the “less-known writers” included in the “and more!” 

The publisher’s description: 
Thank You, Sisters tells the true stories of Sisters and the people they have influenced, showing the effect women religious have had not only on the U.S. Catholic Church, but on the nation as a whole, in areas such as health care, education, social justice, and pastoral ministry.” 
The book was put together and edited by my friend and colleague John Feister, editor-in-chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

My essay, “Mi Hermana Tess,” tells the story of my friendship with my heart friend Sr. Tess Browne, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky.

Sr. Tess and I, 1992, at the
7th National Black Catholic Congress, New Orleans

Here’s a taste of my essay-- remembering when I first met Tess at the University of Texas Catholic Center 34 years ago. I was 19.
One day in the spring, my good friend and staff member Sister Anne, a Dominican from Houston, received a call from a Franciscan sister working in McAllen, Texas. She explained that a group from the United Farm Workers movement had come to Austin to speak to the convening Texas Legislature and to lobby on behalf of farm workers. They were looking for a place to stay for a few days and wanted to connect with college students at the Catholic Student Center who were interested in learning about their ministry.
 Sr. Marie-Therese Browne, or Tess, as she introduced herself, was a 37-year-old dynamo with a heart the size of Texas. She was a member of the Wisconsin chapter of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. A native of Trinidad, Tess and I immediately bonded as we joked and shared about our experience living in the states as Hispanic women from the Caribbean islands. But as Tess pointed out in her characteristic direct style in an accent laced by the Creole and French spoken in her island, as a Black woman Hispanic, “I have one up on you!”
¡Si se puede!
University of Texas Catholic Center students visiting farm workers in South Texas, 
with Sr Tess Browne of the United Farm Workers, 1980

With Tess, a mini-reunion of our University Catholic Center UFW group
at my daughter Michelle's wedding, July 2012