My book, The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith, asks: What is sacred? Where is the truth? What does it mean when everything you have counted on is suddenly no longer there?
This true story is about a group of Catholics in one San Francisco parish who lose their church and wage a heroic crusade to win it back. Along the way, there are profound moments of spirituality – and shocking revelations that stretch to the Vatican, and that resonate today.
Grace is a book not only for those who struggle with faith and religion, but also for anyone who has been betrayed or who feels lost in the world around them. Grace and its beautiful real-life characters have much to teach about where to find comfort and inspiration, and where, ultimately, to find faith. The people of St. Brigid, who were ignored, betrayed, and knocked down again and again, simply refused to give up. They found resilience in one another, and grew in unimaginable ways. They gained courage and friendship. And, locked out of their church, they came to define faith on their own terms.
I spent six years studying the band from St. Brigid, who began their resistance in 1994, when the church, an architectural treasure within sight of San Francisco Bay, was closed. What struck me early on about this group was how different they were from anyone I’d met in San Francisco. As a journalist in the city, I had interviewed the rich, the famous, and the infamous. I had profiled leaders in business, science, sports, education, and the arts. But in these parishioners I found the real thing: people without hubris, without ego, but with passion and fortitude. They are everyday people who did something heroic. Their story should resonate with Catholics who have been tested and let down, who have been sickened to learn of cases of clergy abuse and cover-ups that reached from local parishes to the Vatican. But it is my hope that people of any faith, or no faith, will enjoy this book for its drama, its twists and turns, the secrets revealed, and for the incredible characters, who are funny and flawed, stubborn and forgiving. There is the young Irish priest who risked his collar to fight for St. Brigid. There is the death-penalty appeals lawyer from the South who fought for the 130-year-old church the way he defends his clients on death row. There is the man who had fallen away from the Church, certain he would never be accepted for who he truly was. And there are the lovely secondary characters who kept the candle burning on the front steps of St. Brigid.
I hope you will enjoy this book and that it will give you a sense of courage in your own life. --Julian Guthrie