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Publisher's Summary

The 1950s was a boom time for the Catholic Church in America, with large families of devout members providing at least one son or daughter for a life of religious service. Boston was at the epicenter of this explosion, and Bill Manseau and Mary Doherty, two eager young parishioners from different towns, became part of a new breed of clergy, eschewing the comforts of homey parishes and choosing instead to minister to the inner-city poor. Peter Manseau's riveting evocation of his parents' parallel childhoods, their similar callings, their experiences in the seminary and convent, and how they met while tending to the homeless of Roxbury during the riot-prone 1960s is a page-turning meditation on the effect that love can have on profound faith.Once married, the Manseaus continued to fight for Father Bill's right to serve the church as a priest, and it was into this situation that Peter and his siblings were born and raised to be good Catholics while they witnessed their father's personal conflict with the church's hierarchy. A multigenerational tale of spirituality, Vows also charts Peter's own calling, one which he tried to deny even as he felt compelled to consider the monastic life, toying with the idea of continuing a family tradition that stretches back over 300 years of Irish and French Catholic priests and nuns.It is also in Peter's deft hands that we learn about a culture and a religion that has shaped so much of American life, affected generations of true believers, and withstood great turmoil. Vows is a compelling tale of one family's unshakable faith that to be called is to serve, however high the cost may be.
©2005 Peter Manseau; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Seductively well written." (Publishers Weekly)
"An ultimately upbeat affirmation of faith and family love." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By connie on 05-19-09

Good social history in an easy listen

This is social history told though personal (family) history, well written and narrated-- a very easy, pleasant listen that puts mid-and late 20th century North American Catholic history in some perspective. In the last third of the book, the story shifts more to the son/author's own faith journey and then to clergy sexual abuse. The author blames mandatory celibacy as a major reason for pedophilia among Catholic clergy (a doubtful thesis, I think) as well as the lack of attention to psycho-sexual development in the curriculum of the overcrowded American diocesan seminaries of the 1950s. Since most seminarians were adolescents in that period and experienced teachers were in short supply, the latter is a more interesting thesis.

I think Manseau explains the Catholic elements well enough for non Catholics to follow the narrative. I don't know what the reviewer below referred to with the "Mary worship" comment as the Catholicism presented, even pre-Vatican II, is not that old sterotype. The author tries to maintain a respect for other branches of Christianity as well as other faith traditions and is (overall) respectful of Catholicism. While often suppporting marriage for priests, the story does not voice support so often for women's ordination; it does, however, give women religious credit for their often overlooked central contribution to the growth of North American Catholicism by mid century (the "brick and mortar" phase that they underwrote by their labor).

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By DMHVetSurveyor on 04-05-06

A troubling but, pleasurable story.

A really good look into the lives of these people and into the heart of the Catholic Church during the time of change with Vatican II and the Charismatic movement. The author has a love for the ecumenical movement, which I personally do not share, nor do I share much if any of his "Christian Worldview", not being a Catholic. However, this book does give a person a much better understanding of the "Ecumenical, Charismatic, Catholic Worldview". If we are to bring them out of their "Mary Worship", we need to better understand where they are coming from. All in all, a very enjoyable, well written work. The narrator does a great job, especially with the Irish accents. I would purchase further works by the author as long as they are not on theology.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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