Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son
In an engrossing memoir, a young and talented writer limns the lives of his parents, a former nun and a priest who chose to marry but never renounced his ministerial orders. - PW
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The 1950s was a boom time for the Catholic Church in
America, with large families of devout members providing at
least one son or daughter for a life of religious service.
Boston was at the epicenter of this explosion, and Bill
Manseau and Mary Doherty -- two eager young parishioners
from different towns -- became part of a new breed of
clergy, eschewing the comforts of homey parishes and
choosing instead to minister to the inner-city poor. Peter
Manseau's riveting evocation of his parents' parallel
childhoods, their similar callings, their experiences in
the seminary and convent, and how they met while tending to
the homeless of Roxbury during the riot-prone 1960s is a
page-turning meditation on the effect that love can have on
Once married, the Manseaus continued to fight for Father
Bill's right to serve the church as a priest, and it was
into this situation that Peter and his siblings were born
and raised to be good Catholics while they witnessed their
father's personal conflict with the church's hierarchy. A
multigenerational tale of spirituality, Vows also charts
Peter's own calling, one which he tried to deny even as he
felt compelled to consider the monastic life, toying with
the idea of continuing a family tradition that stretches
back over 300 years of Irish and French Catholic priests
It is also in Peter's deft hands that we learn about a
culture and a religion that has shaped so much of American
life, affected generations of true believers, and withstood
great turmoil. Vows is a compelling tale of one family's
unshakable faith that to be called is to serve, however
high the cost may be.
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