LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — A new book of life experiences by Kenneth Paulli, OFM, has been released. Titled “Outside the Walls: Encountering God in the Unfamiliar,” the book’s content correlates well with the themes of Lent, says the author.
“Each Ash Wednesday, we hear these words from the Prophet Joel: ‘Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart … Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God,’” He said. “In many ways, ‘Outside the Walls’ is a book on the great Lenten theme of conversion. To use the words of Joel, ‘Outside the Walls’ is a book rich with stories of ‘returning to the Lord with one’s whole heart,’ or ‘rending one’s heart and returning to the Lord,’ all of which are shared to invite the reader to do the same.”
In this conversational book published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, Ken shares nine personal stories, which range from a humorous encounter with a nearly 100-year-old woman to a disturbing encounter with a desperately poor, pregnant Haitian woman.
“It was a couple of years in the making,” said Ken, an associate professor of education at Siena College in Loudonville. “The book brings together material I have taught at Siena in a seminar many times – Franciscan service – as well as material that I put together for more than 20 years of giving Lenten parish missions across the United States and Canada.” It was born primarily from the “outside the walls encounters” he has had throughout his life.
The book – which is softcover and just over 100 pages long – is one that he wanted to write for several years, said Ken, adding that teaching a seminar about Franciscan service helped him organize the book.
“This is my first book,” he said. “I have many published articles, but they are all in my academic field. ‘Outside the Walls’ is a book on the spiritual life.”
“As a Franciscan friar for more than 30 years, and as a Franciscan priest for more than 25, I have always been inspired by this notion of living ‘outside the walls’ and staying with the lepers,” he said in the first chapter of the book. “At the same time, it has also been a challenging dimension to Franciscan life for me.”
In the book, Ken describes St. Francis of Assisi “as staying close to the poor.”
“Led by the Lord according to Francis himself, and led outside the walls of his hometown, Francis encountered lepers,” said Ken. “He served them. He touched them. He cleaned their sores. He stayed with them. Why? Because Francis, above all else, wanted to love the Lord, who willingly suffered for our sake. Outside the walls and led by the Lord, the suffering Christ was revealed to Francis in and through the suffering lepers in ways no other human beings could do for Francis.”
The book includes a foreword by Fr. Richard Fragomeni of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., and an endorsement by Peter Fiore, OFM, a scholar in residence at Siena.
“[Ken’s] first published book is highly readable and movingly powerful,” said Peter. “The book is a gem. In his sharing of, and reflection upon, his own stories of moving ‘outside the walls’ and encountering God, Ken skillfully invites the reader to do the same – a refreshing reading experience.”
“I think these kinds of books can be very helpful to the general public,” said Ken, adding that the chapters can be read in any order.
The format for each chapter is the same. Each begins with the author sharing with the reader an ‘outside the walls’ experience that ultimately motivated him to ask the question, “okay, God, what are you asking of me?”
The book can be purchased through Amazon, Westbow Press and Barnes & Noble in both paperback and as an e-book. Copies will also be available at events where Ken is speaking.
Ken is giving a parish mission at St. Frances de Chantal in Wantagh, Long Island, N.Y., from March 10 to 14, during which he will sign books for those who wish to purchase them. He plans to hold several book signings in the early spring at Siena as well as at other venues in the Capital Region – at parishes where he has been involved and at independent living residences. The parishes, which consider this part of their adult faith formation programs, include Mater Christi in Albany, St. Mary in Ballston Spa, St. Pius X in Loudonville, and St. Edward in Clifton Park.
Ken, a native of Westchester County, N.Y., graduated from Siena in 1982. Since 1997, he has worked at the college in both administrative and teaching roles. In 2010, when he marked 25 years as a friar, Siena established a scholarship named for Ken.
Information about other books published recently by members of U.S. provinces can be found on USFranciscans.org.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “New Book of Homilies by Kevin Mackin” – Feb. 7, 2018, HNP Today
- “Siena Friar Writes Sixth Book” – Nov. 28, 2010, HNP Today
- “Siena Holds Mass to Celebrate Kenneth Paulli Scholarship” – Nov. 10, 2010, HNP Today
- “Profile: Kenneth Paulli Marks 25 Years as a Friar” – March 17, 2010, HNP Today