I’m happy to inform you about my book, Lights Along My Path, published by Tao Publishing, LLC. This is a new version of a book I wrote originally in 1995, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press (Lights: Revelations of God’s Goodness). The subtitle of the new book is A Friar’s Journey in the Footsteps of St. Francis. It is simply my own imperfect attempt to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.
My journey began in the 1940s in southern Indiana. The first chapter of Lights Along My Path begins: “Bing Crosby was playing a young Catholic priest in The Bells of St. Mary’s. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were a mighty football team. And I was a Catholic school kid and young altar boy at St. Louis Church in little Batesville, Indiana, my hometown.” Some details of youthful mischief follow a bit later.
I go on to describe my life at age 14 as a student at St. Francis Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, located about 50 miles east of Batesville. I entered classes there in 1950, beginning my 13-year journey through our Franciscan seminary system. After graduating in 1954, I went to St. Anthony Novitiate (also in Cincinnati), where I received the Franciscan habit. Then, in the summer of 1955, my family drove me to Duns Scotus College in Detroit, Michigan. Four years later, my class and I moved on to St. Leonard College near Dayton, Ohio, where I was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1963.
A Detour to the Philippines
To fast-forward a few years, I was a busy and rather contented English teacher for a number of years at our Franciscan high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Father Mel Brady, OFM, rector of the Franciscan seminary near Manila in the Philippines. Mel invited me to teach English Literature to college-level Filipino seminarians. After some soul-searching, I accepted his offer.
I found my teaching stint in the Philippines to be a dramatic change from life in the United States. I found life there to be a cross-cultural experience and a great unexpected blessing—truly one of the lights along my path. Serving in the Philippines for three years was, for me, the first of many opportunities to experience life in a foreign setting. Already, when returning to my home country, I had an opportunity to travel across parts of Asia and England, as well as make a stop in Ireland.
Life as a Journalist
In the summer of 1972, I was back in Cincinnati and, at the invitation of editor, Father Jeremy Harrington, OFM, had begun to write articles for St. Anthony Messenger magazine. Again there were opportunities to report on events abroad for St. Anthony Messenger—in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, for example, as well as in countries like El Salvador and Chile (under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet).
As a journalist, I also had the opportunity to interview fascinating personalities such as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a well-known psychiatrist and author of books on death and dying. I also interviewed actors such as Carroll O’Connor (TV’s Archie Bunker), Gene Kelly, Bob Newhart, Brooke Shields, and Martin Sheen (who graciously wrote the foreword to this book). Brief accounts of five of these interviews are found in Lights Along My Path.
Spotlight on Franciscan Saints
The secret of St. Francis is identified in my book as Francis’ amazing sense of God’s overflowing goodness. The same secret—which is a central theme of the book—has energized each of the great Franciscan saints (St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, St. Clare, St. Anthony of Padua, and Blessed John Duns Scotus). Even in our own day, the same spirit is still alive in followers of St. Francis, and a good number of these individuals are mentioned by name in my book.
Because Franciscan Media is a distributor of Friar Jack’s book for Tau Publishing, LLC, I’m happy to tell you about our special offer regarding Lights Along My Path. With your purchase, you will receive a copy of the book—personally autographed by me—for only $7.95 (plus shipping), a discount from the list price of $9.95. Order the book here.
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you so much for your “Saints of October.” It was enlightening and very informative. I have shared this with friends! Nicole
Dear Friar Jim: It was wonderful that you included saints who might have passed us by this month. I particularly liked your inclusion of Pope John XXIII. What he did for the Church in the 20th century cannot be forgotten. Vincent
Dear Friar Jim: What a lovely newsletter! I could read about the saints every day! Jennifer
Dear Friar Jim: Thanks for your newsletter on saints in October. The saints inspire me to live a richer, holier life. Ronald
A: Dear Nicole, Vincent, Jennifer, and Ronald: All of you made a similar comment about how saints are so inspiring, helpful, and encouraging for us. It is Jesus, first and foremost, who calls us to holiness. But seeing the struggles and joys of our brothers and sisters reminds us that we don’t walk alone. We are walking with a big crowd of disciples who are just like us. Thanks! Friar Jim