April 23, 2010
Unlikely Spiritual Heroes
By Br. Benet S. Exton *

By Br. Benet S. Exton *

Hill,Brennan R.Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, December 2009. 143 pages. ISBN 978-0-86716-924-9  $14.95.

In this new and inspiring book, Dr. Brennan Hill presents the short biographies of a number of contemporary figures who have distinguished themselves in the struggle against social injustice. For the Catholic reader, most of the name will be familiar, but there are a few who lived their lives under the radar. However, all of the stories are extremely captivating and inspiring to the modern person of faith who may struggle with the effort of constantly staying true to their beliefs.

Not all of the people profiled in this book are priests or religious either. For example, Jean Donovan was a lay missionary martyred in El Salvador in the 1980’s. Sr. Helen Prejean is a strong advocate against the death penalty. She is also currently an author.

There are, of course, a few remarkable priests and religious as well. Sr. Dorothy Stang  spent her life as an advocate for the poor. She was martyred in Brazil. Fr. Pedro Arrupe  was an influential superior general of the Jesuits.  Thomas Merton was a well known Trappist monk, writer, and probably one of the most well-known contemplatives in recent memory. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the archbishop of Chicago and was very well known for his diplomatic and bridge building efforts when he was falsly accused. However, he bore the cross patiently, and eventually his accuser recanted, though not before the Cardinal was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Many will be familiar with St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who was sent to the Nazi death camps and eventually died.  And of course, the Venerable Pope John Paul II is revered for his actions in bringing down communism, reaching out to the youth, and for being the third longest serving pope in the history of the CHurch. 

All of these short biographies show how these people fought against the evils of social injustice.  Dr. Hill presents their stories based on various sources about or by the person in questions.  His sources are included in the endnotes. 

This book is inspiring and thought provoking. It is highly recommended to those interested in saints or heroic Christians.

Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
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