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An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Lifeby Mary Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
Advance Praise for Mary Johnson's AN UNQUNCHABLE THIRST
“An Unquenchable Thirst offers a rare and intimate glimpse inside the mysterious and austere world of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. Former nun Mary Johnson's eloquent and moving tale is an extraordinary testament to the enduring power of love—beyond faith and dogma. It reminds us of why we are here—to love and live fully, to be curious about all things, and to live a compassionate—and passionate—authentic life.”—Mira Bartok, author of The Memory Palace
“A heartfelt, personal story of the gradual awakening of a person who comes to see that preferring ‘the human to the perfect’ does not alienate her from authentic spirituality, but allows her to live more fully.”– Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk
“To say that An Unquenchable Thirst, Mary Johnson's wonderful exploration of her life with Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity, is a courageous book is to say little. Opening up the soul's deep core onto the page is always an act of bravery. Mary Johnson is brave writ large — very large and very courageously and very simply and very gently and very intellectually and very wholly. She writes expertly about the myths and misperceptions of women's religious vocations and the sacred validity of human intimacy.”—Breena Clarke, author of Stand the Storm
"Johnson, a writer and Fellow of the MacDowell Colony, left the Missionaries of Charity in 1997. She overshares the 20 years she spent as a nun under the direction of Mother Theresa. As Sister Donata (a name meaning 'freely given'), Johnson lived obediently in poverty and chastity — most of the time. Yet she was chafed by the rules more than by her blue-edged sari. For her, Jesus' words, 'I came that you may have life, and have it to the full,' meant she had to leave: 'my faith left my soul cold.' She profiles 'Mother' beyond the myth and provides chilling reports of vicious, bullying nuns. She details her growth from a teenager obsessed with the ideal of Mother Theresa into an adult who needed touch and privacy and eye contact, all forbidden by Mother. Johnson writes candidly of self-flagellation, humiliation, and her furtive exploration of her sexuality. Johnson 'recreated' the first half of her story, going back to her adolescence and her initial decade as a nun, from her memories; it's tedious compared to the intense, believable second half that includes her last years of working with Mother Theresa. The epilogue, covering her life after she left the order, teases with riches never mined. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
An unforgettable spiritual autobiography about a search for meaning that begins alongside one of the great religious icons of our time and ends with a return to the secular world
At seventeen, Mary Johnson saw Mother Teresa’s face on the cover of Time and experienced her calling. Eighteen months later, she entered a convent in the South Bronx to begin her religious training. Not without difficulty, this bright, independent-minded Texas teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, and in time became close to Mother Teresa herself.
Still, beneath the white and blue sari beat the heart of an ordinary young woman facing the struggles we all share—the desire for love and connection, meaning and identity. During her twenty years with the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Donata, as she was known, grappled with her faith, her sexuality, the politics of the order, and her complicated relationship with Mother Teresa. Eventually, she left the church to find her own path—one that led to love and herself.
Provocative, profound, and emotionally charged, An Unquenchable Thirst presents a rare, privileged view of Mother Teresa. At the same time, it is a unique and magnificent memoir of self-discovery.
About the Author
For twenty years, as Sister Donata, Mary Johnson was a Missionary of Charity, a nun in Mother Teresa’s order, until she left in 1997. A respected teacher and public speaker, she has been named a Fellow of the MacDowell Colony and is on the board of A Room of Her Own Foundation. She lives in New Hampshire.
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