This was one of the best books I’ve read in 2019.
I read the book on my Kindle, and it was so inspiring, motivating and beautifully penned that I just could not put my Kindle down. I’ve reviewed Shirley Harris- Slaughter’s short story called ‘Newspaper Chronicles’ earlier this year. In this blog post, I’m going to convince you that your next historical Christian read this Summer should be ‘Our Lady of Victory’ penned masterfully by Shirley Harris-Slaughter.
As the title indicates, the book is about a Catholic church in the USA called ‘Our Lady of Victory’ that had its humble missionary beginnings which helped convert a vast majority of Black-American believers into the Catholic faith. This church was the brainchild, or should I say the heart-child of a pioneering soul, Madre Anna Bates, who wanted nothing more than to bring Jesus Christ to her community.
I am an existentialist, but I practice my Catholic faith and have been brought up in a liberal Catholic family here in Bandra West, Mumbai, India. So, I really could identify with the pioneering missionary work mentioned in this awesome book. To be frank, my own parish called St. Francis of Assisi Church was also going through the same developments, problems, issues and jubilation as Harris-Slaughter’s parish had gone through in the past. It is coincidental that the priests who ministered at ‘Our Lady of Victory’ were mostly from the Franciscan clan. The point is, even though I’m an existentialist and quite a bit of an atheist, even I was very moved by this Christian inspirational biography, of a remarkable community of believers.
If you are looking for a new Catholic inspirational read then ‘Our Lady of Victory’ is the book you should be reading. If you want to deepen your knowledge in the Christian or Catholic faith then this is the book for you. If you are into any kind of Christian missionary work or are in the process of constructing a church to minister to the needs of a believing congregation ready to accept Jesus Christ into their lives, then you will find a lot of solace in this book ‘Our Lady of Victory’.
I loved the book. I loved every part of it.
But when I realized that Our Lady of Victory church has also faced the flack of racism which is a predominant issue, we keep hearing from this region in our world, it made me empathize with priests like Fr. Alvin Deem, Fr. Roberge, Fr. DeCneudt, along with the Oblate Sisters of Providence, who in spite of all the obstacles, tried in every way possible to bring Jesus Christ to the congregation of the West Eight Mile region.
I found Slaughter’s church story similar to my parish which had to fight a lot of battles to be recognized as a parish and not a chapel especially after I was born in 1989. Our Lady of Victory had to fight against racism meted out to colored individuals, while my parish had to fight against being looked down upon as a ‘poor parish of Gujarati Catholics’ which our parishioners fought a long fight to make sure that St. Francis of Assisi Church remained a parish in the Archdiocese of Bombay/Mumbai.
If your church is fighting battles like Slaughter’s and mine, then this book will give you solace to know that you are not alone in this battle. Read this book, it will change your life.
I read this book during the whole Lent service in our church. My parish priest was annoyed that I was reading instead of praying but I was in total communion with the many people who are mentioned in Slaughter’s phenomenal book – the Rosa Green family, the Claude Carter Family, Fred and Almeta Carruth etc., who were inspiring me more to a spirit of what we call ‘being Catholic’. The services at Lent were made more sacred while reading this sacred book about a Black-American Catholic church.
There are a lot of very beautiful black and white photographs in the book which enhance and give a face to the people who worked and served at Our Lady of Victory. When I looked at the photographs, I wondered where all these people – these First Holy Communicants, this bishop, this Knight of St. Peter Claver member, this class of school children, this smiling nun where are they now or have they all passed into another realm of existence? You will be so involved in the mesmerizing book that you will ask these questions to yourself as you glance at these beautifully kept photographs.
I really look up to Madre Anna Bates mentioned in ‘Our Lady of Victory’ for her pioneering work in bringing Jesus Christ to so many needy souls. She reminds me of our church founder, a certain Fr. Roque who was adamant that St. Francis of Assisi would be a full functioning parish ministering the sacraments to the people of God. You as a reader will love Anna Bates and all the wonderful men and women who make up this beautiful story of the ministry of one Catholic church and the terrible racism they had to face.
Do they win? Or does racism win?
No spoilers from me, buy the book right now and read it for yourself.
The book is a Christian inspirational book. It’s a book for Christian missionaries of all denominations, who are striving to build churches, hospitals, schools, colleges, universities et al to bring hope, happiness and the spirit of true humanity to the needy. I highly recommend this book to any religious or priest who is needing something Christian and uplifting to read this summer 2019.
The book is easy to read, well-organized and meticulously researched.
I applaud the devotion of Slaughter to chronicle the tale of her parish for posterity. I wouldn’t have been able to do so at all. Slaughter’s attention to detail is remarkable and highly commendable. Slaughter has gone through a lot of trouble to get at the sources of the church along with the histories of other Black-American Catholic churches which is just incredible and shows her determination to tell Our Lady of Victory’s story to the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get your Kindle copy right now and read away. Support Shirley Harris-Slaughter and all churches who are facing any form of discrimination. It may sound peculiar all this coming from me, an absolute existentialist atheist but just the way I have the right to be a non-believer, other human beings have the right to practice their faith as long as they are living in harmony with all of God’s creations and are not hurting anyone in the process.
Support this book and Kudos to Shirley Harris-Slaughter for a job well done.
Happy Reading to you all!
Copyright ©2019 Fiza Pathan