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The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faithby Julian Guthrie
Synopses & Reviews
“A vivid, compassionate account of the battle waged by the men and women of a historic San Francisco parish against orders to close their church.”—T. J. Stiles, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
The century-old St. Brigid Church was one of San Franciscos great landmarks, a Romanesque work of art that had weathered world wars, great depressions, and two epic earthquakes. It had a vibrant and active congregation, with young leadership, and more than sufficient funds. But suddenly, without warning, Catholic officials decreed that the parish—built by immigrants and revered by generations of San Franciscans—would be shuttered.
The Grace of Everyday Saints is the remarkable true story of a band of believers who came together in a crusade to save their beloved church and unravel the mystery of why it was closed. This unlikely group of heroes—led by a renegade lawyer from the South, a questioning Catholic, and an anti-establishment priest—would wage the longest parish protest in Catholic America. What they discovered along the way would be both devastating and affirming. They would learn that the men they revered the most—men who were supposed to represent God—were far from infallible. They would learn, too, that their faith was more resilient than anyone could have imagined.
A dramatic narrative that takes us from the streets of San Francisco to the halls of the Vatican, The Grace of Everyday Saints is about injustice and betrayal, redemption and grace. This portrait of parishioners without a parish struggling to keep faith alive sheds light on the real, everyday consequences of the greatest scandal to have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. But ultimately, this story is about the power of belief, the comfort of community, and finding faith on your own terms.
“This beautiful book about the resilience of a small group of Catholic parishioners against the shutdown of their church is a parable of larger convulsions caused by unjust bishops.”—Jason Berry, author of Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church
"In this David versus Goliath narrative, award-winning San Francisco Chronicle reporter Julian Guthrie tells the story of a small group of everyday Catholics who dared — for more than a decade — to challenge the official Roman Catholic hierarchy's decision to close their historic parish church, St. Brigid, in San Francisco. The diocese insisted the closure was a response to the expense of repairs to an aging church and declining membership. But as parishioners dug deeper, they gradually discovered a darker set of motives. Describing machinations going all the way to the top tiers of the Vatican, Guthrie suggests that St. Brigid, sitting on a valuable piece of San Francisco real estate and with ,000 in cash in the bank, was targeted for liquidation to pay for the hidden crimes of priests. A gripping story with a compelling if somewhat complicated cast of characters, this book paints lay Catholics as heroes — and is unlikely to be popular with the Catholic hierarchy. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A nonfiction account of a group of Catholic churchgoers in San Francisco who fight to reopen the doors of their beloved place of worship after it was closed in the wake of sex abuse scandals.
Advance Praise for THE GRACE OF EVERYDAY SAINTS:
“A gem of a book, which I swallowed in a day. With the gift of an accomplished storyteller, Guthrie tells of an amazing community, and at the same time introduces readers to individuals we’d welcome as our shepherds.”—Ken Auletta, author of Googled
“Must a religious community depend on a physical structure for its reality? Or do the people themselves make sacred ground wherever they gather? The exiled congregation of St. Brigid have not given up their church. Their story will reverberate long after this amazing book ends.”—Maxine Hong Kingston, author of I Love A Broad Margin to My Life
“Julian Guthrie’s moving and eloquent book offers a parable of authentic faith, how resistance and reverence open to one another. A new image of belief—and just in time.”—James Carroll, author of Jerusalem, Jerusalem
“Must reading for anyone who struggles with the meaning of faith in these turbulent modern times. Julian Guthrie has written both a hymn of praise for a community of believers as well as a heartfelt prayer for a better world.”—Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the family memoir Uphill Walkers
“This is the story of a candle that burned on the steps of a fabled, shuttered church and of the people who kept that flame—and their own faith—alive. What is sacred? Who can be trusted? Can communities save us when hierarchies cannot? This brave and engrossing book seeks answers. It sanctifies a truly moving quest.”—Beth Kephart, author of Dangerous Neighbors
St. Brigid Church was one of San Franciscos great landmarks in the early 1990s. The church itself had weathered depressions and natural disasters, epic earthquakes and a massive fire. Its vibrant and active congregation had more than sufficient funds. But in 1993, without warning or any real explanation, the Catholic Archdiocese ordered its doors be closed. The Grace of Saints is the story of how a unique group of believers came together in a crusade to save their church. What they discovered would be devastating: that around the country, Catholic parishes like theirs were being shuttered to hide sex abuse charges that plagued the higher echelons of the church. Soon there were near daily headlines that shocked the world. But still this unlikely group of heroesled by a renegade lawyer, a reformed Catholic, and an anti-establishment priestcontinued to meet weekly, to fight, to prove that their beloved St. Brigid was worth saving. A dramatic narrative that takes readers from the streets of San Francisco to the halls of the Vatican, The Grace of Saints is about injustice and betrayal, about redemption and grace. But what veteran journalist Julian Guthrie also delivers is a book that finally sheds light on the real, everyday consequences of the greatest scandal to have rocked the church. And when it builds to its tragic but beautiful conclusion, readers can't help but ask themselves: what is my sacred place? and is it worth fighting for?
About the Author
JULIAN GUTHRIE is a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Best of the West Award and the Society of Professional Journalists' Public Service Award.
Table of Contents
Introduction • ix
I • FAITH • 1
II • SUFFERING • 89
III • REVELATION • 185
EPILOGUE • 273
Author’s Note • 280
Acknowledgments • 281
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