Fascinating book that pays tribute to ‘saints and seekers’ connected with Limerick
‘Of Limerick Saints and Seekers’ encourages, surprises and sometimes shocks across the stories of over 50 personalities
DATE: A book that will have people “encouraged by the quality of life and love” in Limerick is set to become a much enjoyed, inspirational and unvarnished stocking filler this Christmas.
‘Of Limerick Saints and Seekers’ is a tour de force compilation of personalities either in or of Limerick from diverse traditions who gave spiritual and social leadership over generations here or across the globe.
The eclectic mix of the digestible, short stories of over 50 characters have been infused into a book that journeys through a millennium and a half of Limerick scholars and scribes; poets and preachers; martyrs and missionaries; founders of churches and religious communities; saints and sinners and seekers all.
As put in the foreword by Dr Jessie Rogers - the first woman and lay Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University Maynooth –the characters whose stories are told in the book had their roots or put down roots in Limerick soil; others setting out from Limerick to impact the world. Dr Rogers wrote: “For some the connection was profound, for others the link more tenuous. But all of them, for better or worse, are woven into the story of Limerick through the centuries.”
Dr Rogers’ words also reflected the honesty and truth of the collection. “This book is not a simple exercise in whitewashed hagiography. There are sinners among and within the saints, and you may well be shocked by some of the blind-spots that lie exposed. But more often you will find yourself encouraged by the quality of life and love across the generations.”
She added: “The variety in the subject matter is enhanced by the chorus of story tellers – over 50 narrators bringing their own cadences to this celebration of Limerick’s children, acquaintances and friends.”
‘Of Limerick Saints and Seekers’ is edited/compiled by Limerick Diocesan Archivist David Bracken who describes it as a “surprising collection” that speaks to the great goodness of many witnesses - in some way associated with Limerick - from a variety of faith traditions and perspectives, from early Ireland to the present day. Mr Bracken also edited the much celebrated ‘The End of All Things Earthly: Faith Profiles of the 1916 Leaders (Dublin, 2016)’ to mark the 1916 centenary celebrations.
“The surprise comes in the fact that the book doesn’t shy away from the dark side. It is very honest in that while it celebrates people in or of Limerick who impacted lives so positively, it does not either ignore other less savoury sides.”
The book is divided into ten chapters, each mostly covering five or more personalities. Some of the characters will be known to readers, such as from St. Íte, foster mother of the ‘Saints of Erin’, Terence Albert O’Brien, Bishop of Emly and John Paul II. Others are less known or not at all but no less inspirational.
These include Councillor Martin McGuire - the only personality to get a chapter of their own. Mr McGuire, who was from Limerick City, pursued a public enquiry into the gross mistreatment of a child at St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Glin in the 1940s and exposed the repressive, state-sponsored system.
Also featured is Templeglantine native turned Sikh scholar Max Arthur MacAuliffe, whose English translation of the Sikhs' holy book has been in continuous print since it was first published by the Oxford University Press in 1909. Others whose stories are revealed include Limerick Rabbi Elias Bernard Levin, first minister and founder of communal Jewish life in Limerick; Sr Mary Clare Whitty, an Anglican nun martyred on a Korean death march; and Blessed Mykolay Charnetsky who visited Limerick in the 1930s but was later imprisoned and tortured in Ukraine under Soviet rule in the 1940s and was released only on grounds of ill-health 11 years when he resumed an underground ministry.
In his introduction, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy, who initiated the book with a conversation with editor David Bracken four years ago, wrote that the collection is essentially about the witness of people of goodness, all in some way connected with Limerick.
“Not all mentioned in this book are officially declared saints but they were seekers and certainly holiness can be detected in them,” he added.
The book was launched by Dr Liam Chambers, Head of Department & Senior Lecture at Mary Immaculate College and can be purchased at…….