Recommended Reading

Jocelyn Thomas Features

Three books with Franciscan themes have been recommended by a friar of St. Barbara Province who says, though they are of different genres, each “grapples with fundamental human issues: identity, vocation and faith.” Br. Jeffrey Shackleton, OFM, editor of The Way of St. Francis, described them in the November-December 2011 issue of the publication distributed by the California-based Franciscan province.

God’s Warrior: Father Albert Braun, OFM 1889-1983: Last of the Frontier Priests by Dorothy Cave (Sunstone Press, 2011) focuses on the experiences of a single Franciscan friar — a larger-than-life figure whose long religious career saw military service in two world wars, rugged pastoral work among the Native Americans of the Southwest, ministry in the barrios of Phoenix, Ariz., and more, according to “Turning the Page: Recent Franciscan-Themed Books.” Fr. Albert Braun, OFM, is perhaps best known as the Franciscan priest behind the building of the neo-Gothic St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, an impressive stone structure on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in that state, Br. Jeffrey said. “Yet Dorothy Cave’s ambitious book explores multiple facets of Al Braun’s eventful life, substantiating her title’s claim that he was, indeed, the last of his kind.”

Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century by John Paul Godges (CreateSpace, 2010) explores the lives of the author’s Polish-Catholic immigrant father, second-generation Italian-Catholic mother, five siblings and, of course, himself. The “complex family memoir that examines the lives of those nearest to him” extends far beyond recounting the struggles and victories of one family. It goes to the very heart of what may be called “the American experience.” Oh, Beautiful begins with immigration stories from both sides of the author’s family, his mother’s people migrating from the Abruzzo region of Italy, his father from the southeastern plains of Poland. Throughout multiple decades, the personal joys and tragedies of the author’s parents — and, later, their offspring — are played out against a dramatic backdrop of 20th century American history: the flu epidemic, Prohibition, multiple wars, the women’s movement, gay liberation, the AIDS crisis and more.

Son of Francis by Fr. Efrem Trettel, OFM (Tau Publishing, 2011) is a collection of poetry edited Br. Ryan Thornton, OFM. “Whereas the Franciscan nature of Oh Beautiful may be implicit, it is unmistakable in the book of poems by a Franciscan friar, edited by a second friar, and illustrated by a third. Son of Francis contains more than 130 poems, many of them dealing specifically with some aspect of Franciscan prayer or spirituality,” according to Br. Jeffrey. The book is divided into 13 chapters and two appendixes, and uses the St. Francis Peace Prayer as its organizing principle.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Editor’s note: HNP Today occasionally provides recommendations of publications that are relevant to friars as well as to their partners-in-ministry. Themes of these recommendations are, in addition to spirituality and news of the Catholic Church, topics affiliated with Holy Name Province committees and directorates: evangelization, justice and peace, African-American and Hispanic ministries, communications and wellness. To suggest a book or periodical, email the HNP Communications Office.