Title: A Saint and a Sinner-The Rise and Fall of a Beloved Catholic Priest
Author: Stephen H. Donnelly with Diane O’Bryan
Ex-priest Stephen H. Donnelly’s memoir, A Saint and a Sinner, is an immersive experience into the world of a Catholic priest and a brutally honest account of Stephen’s journey of sinfulness. At age 42, Stephen was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. As he stood before God, the bishop, and the congregation, he made promises he struggled to keep. Three years into his priesthood, he descended into a world of cocaine and alcohol abuse. Fellow priests intervened, and after multiple stints in rehab, Stephen turned his life around and became well-known in Alcoholics Anonymous circles as the “Irish priest with a problem.
During his seven years as Associate Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, Huntington, New York, he became known among parishioners as a “rock star.” They were among the best years of his priesthood. He was Stephen: the man, the Catholic, and the priest at his absolute best. But in 2018, while assigned to a new parish, the unthinkable happened, and it threatened to destroy everything he held dear.
A tale that cried out to be told. There was a time when the people who took the vocation of priest were placed on pedestals. By now, that aura has been removed. That alone shows some bad apples do indeed spoil the whole bunch.
The life of Father Stephen at first seems apocryphal - this reads like - these are the potential pitfalls so avoid them.
Strikingly, this is simply one man's story. It is presented that this is like a Shakespearean tragedy. I actually saw not a small amount of Monty Python and Benny Hill in this. In some ways, I saw Death of a Salesman in this too. It seems trite but this shows the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The argument of genetics vs. environment gets a vote for environment. A child raised in that lifestyle is more likely to repeat what he thinks is 'normal'.
This is a well-written book that exposes the frailty of the human spirit. I recommend this book to every Catholic on the globe. I also recommend it to anyone interested in a case study on human behavior. This reader’s final analysis of the subject is simple. This man was never meant to be a priest. That is not a statement made to condemn his great work. The work he does as a grief counselor and the help he provides addicts are his true calling.
Perhaps he should have been an Anglican. Be that as it may, it is the Monty Pythonesque aspect that has him brought down, not for the myriad legitimate things he had done, but one he didn't.
My Rating: 5 stars
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Stephen Donnelly, after six years of arduous study, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and spent two decades as a spiritual leader and beloved priest. In his memoir, A Saint and a Sinner, Stephen takes the reader behind the curtain of the mighty and mysterious Catholic Church as he recounts his relationships with God, the faithful, bishops, and the institution. Stephen was named ‘Man of the Year in Religion,’ hosted the ‘Fallen on Long Island’ drug, was named Grand Marshall, and won ‘The Peter Sweisgood Award.’ He celebrated eighteen years sobriety and is active in Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Step Program inspiring others to live a sober life.
Diane O’Bryan is a professional photographer and co-author of A Saint and a Sinner. Stephen was her parish priest and friend — and she knew he had a fascinating and compelling story. When she’s not writing she can be found at the beach or on a tennis court. She lives on Long Island, New York with her husband and stepson.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N
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