Meet a Book Group: St. Paul’s Tuesday Morning Book Group

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution to read more? What about joining or starting a book group? This month, instead of featuring a “reader,” the book page of the print edition of The Catholic Post features a book group active in the Western portion of the diocese. If you are in the Peoria diocese and would like to share your love of reading (or your book group’s love of reading!), leave a comment hereI’m truly grateful for Donella Anderson of the book group for reaching out to me to have the group featured, and I’m always looking for new readers to feature.

St. Paul Book Group

(seated, l to r): Msgr. Richard Pricco and Bill Maakestad; and (standing, l to r):Donella Anderson, Andrea Williams, Vicky Looman, Annie VonTom, Deacon Larry Adams and Gloria Hurh. Absent: Sister Janice Keenan, OSF

How you know us:  

We are nine Catholics; eight parishioners of St. Paul Parish, Macomb, and one Director of St. Francis of Assisi Newman Center, Western IL University; six women and three men; one ordained priest, one ordained deacon, one consecrated religious and six laypersons. We range in age from 40s to 70s.  Some of us were raised Catholic; some not.  Some of us remember the church before Vatican II; some do not.

Our group was started in 2002 by Linda Jani, who was our unofficial but revered leader until a move to Indiana last year. We wondered if we could continue as a group without her, but came to realize it would do her a disservice if we did not continue.  So we carry on, but she has definitely been our inspiration.

All of us have been inspired to read books we certainly would not otherwise have chosen.  We rarely all have the same insights from what we read, and we are the richer for it. After all, as my father used to say, where everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much!

Why we love reading (various member responses):

…I can enter into the mind of another, but at my own pace. I love fiction because it takes me into another world; and I love non-fiction because it stretches my understanding of my world.

….So much of our modern cultural–and, too often, religious–influences tend to encourage boundaries which create stereotypes, encourage “otherness,” and end up feeding our egos. Reading a wide range of good literature can challenge us to think and understand more deeply, and in the process become more human.

…I read non-fiction  to broaden my knowledge and fiction to relax,refresh and escape.

What I’m reading now (various member responses):  

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton because I keep finding authors I love who have been inspired by him, and this book, in particular.  I’m drawn to the concept of being a contemplative in the world.

…Will D. Campbell’s Brother to a Dragonfly, a memoir by a man raised in the deep South who became a minister and perhaps the most influential white advisor during the early years of the Civil Rights movement.  The book is also a deeply moving memorial to his brother.

…two fiction books now. One by J.A. Jance and  the other by Janet Evanovich.

Our favorite (reading group) books (various member responses) :

The Holy Longing by Ronald Rollheiser, OMI qualifies.

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ.  Reading that book has inspired me to “find God in everything!”

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.  It made me appreciate more our rich shared heritage with our Hebrew elder-brothers and sisters in faith.

…Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains (about physician Paul Farmer).

… Louise Erdich’s The Round House