MARGATE, N.J. — Boniface Hanley, OFM, has another book under his belt, a biography of a World War II German priest who is being considered for beatification.
Boniface, 85, originally wrote The Last Human Face: Fr. Franz Stock: A Priest in Hitler’s Army in 1988, but the story wasn’t embraced by any major Catholic publishers until now. He was contacted recently by Barnes and Noble because Fr. Stock had been granted the title of “servant of God” by Rome. Boniface said this means an investigation is open into his sainthood.
The book and e-book are being sold online through Amazon, and tells the story of the German priest who ministered in French prisons during the war. “He was so good to the men who were going to be killed and to their families,” said Hanley. “He prepared approximately 1,000 men for their deaths before a firing squad. He was just being a good priest at the time.”
“Fr. Boniface has demonstrated himself not only to be a compassionate priest but also a prolific writer,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM. “He has an attractive writing style that makes his publications an easy but interesting read.”
Boniface is also writing a book on Holy Name’s more than 100-year history, a monumental task he has been researching for years. He has written 13 other books, including “Franciscans: Love at Work,” whose title has been borrowed by the Province and made into a video of Holy Name’s story. He also wrote content for The Anthonian magazine for 17 years.
Several weeks ago, Boniface commemorated his 60th ordination anniversary. The venerable priest, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., celebrated with a Mass attended by more than 40 members of his family traveling from all over the United States. His ministry has included varied roles that range from serving as cleric master at the Province’s former house of studies in Rye Beach, N.H., guardian, pastor at four parishes and secretary to the Provincial Minister. He lives at the Franciscan Friary in Margate.
His book is getting good initial reviews, and copies are being ordered by Boniface’s former parishioners at churches throughout New Jersey. St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J., where he served as pastor, sold the books after Masses on July 17 and 18. Autographed copies sold for $20, and proceeds benefited the Province.
One review on Amazon.com calls the book an interesting read.
“This is a great biography. In places, it reads like an action adventure novel, but it’s all true. One gets the impression that the author, a Franciscan friar himself, could have had a pretty good career as a novelist had he not taken a vow of poverty. His words really paint the picture of what it was like to be in German occupied-Paris and this story will remain with you for a long time.”
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.