Praise for Catholic Watershed

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. For American Catholics who lived through it, everything in the church seemed to change. Last year a conference was held on the “lived history” of the council. Scholars discussed the ways people put into practice the council’s call to renewal. In that spirit, Michael P. Cahill invited six Chicago diocesan priests, ordained in 1969, to talk about their 45 years of priestly ministry. We are in his—and their—debt.

The priests entered the seminary as high school students formed in the symbolically rich, parish-centered world of post-war Catholicism. Their experience will rarely be seen again: a seminary class that began with 400 and 12 years later celebrated the ordination of only 35. They had teachers schooled in the theology of the “mystical body of Christ,” which prepared them for the council’s image of “the people of God.” These were from the beginning enthusiastic “Vatican II priests” dedicated to the council’s teachings and Chicago’s traditions of community, shared responsibility, lay leadership, and social justice.

For half of the book these priests describe their parish experiences through nearly a half century of changing currents in church and society. Their attention is always centered on their own parishes and people. The second half offers their reflections, with a healthy degree of self-criticism, on themes of prayer, liturgy, the sex abuse scandal, and clerical celibacy.

There is a lot to be learned here. One lesson is that diocesan priesthood is a collaborative, fraternal vocation where friendship among priests is enormously important. Another is that parish ministry is about people. One must love God and love the church, one priest said, but parish priests must also fall in love with their people. They remain after a half century of “lived history” filled with faith and hope that the people of God will continue to pursue that vision.   –College of the Holy Cross Professor Emeritus David O'Brien, U.S. Catholic

[The six priests] indeed gave an accurate and much needed history of their experience in the seminary, and more importantly -- their mission and ministry in bringing Vatican II into the parishes they served.   -- Bishop John Gorman, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (Retired) and former Rector of Mundelein Seminary

Catholic Watershed is an outstanding book that offers personal perspectives of six priests during a pivotal time in our American Catholic history...Readers who have lived through part or all of the same time period will find the priests’ honest reflections fascinating. We remember how it was for us as laity. Learning how it was from the other side of the Catholic fence is insightful. --Mary Doyle, Doyle's Delights

Outstanding book. Covers both global and local church scene from pre-Vatican II to present. An otherwise unavailable view of the thinking, motivations and actions of pastors and associate pastors as well as church leadership within the archdiocese of Chicago. Fosters a greater appreciation for the depth of love and concern priests have for their church and their people. Also fosters introspective thinking by those of us who are lay contemporaries of the priests featured in this book. The writing style brings the reader right into the heart of each period discussed.  --Amazon Review

It was difficult for me to put this book down once I got started. Being a Deacon in the Chicago Archdiocese, the stories of these six priests reminded me of how I fell in love with my faith while a young parochial school student at St. Martha's to being a Deacon at that same church over forty years later. It was priests like the six men written about here that stoked the fire that would eventually lead to my own ordination. I thank each of them for sharing their lives and journeys with us, and especially thank the author for including the histories of other important men of the cloth that not only influenced these men throughout their personal formation, but all the Chicago faithful as well. These men always kept it about the faithful, never about themselves, and had the courage to hold to their ideals from ordination to for some of them, retirement. Well-written and honest, in my opinion this is a "must read" for any young men currently in priestly formation. --Amazon Review

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