Who will want to read this book?

This story traverses the tumultuous 60s and 70s, offering a unique vantage on some paradoxical aspects of western culture. From an intimate, personal perspective, this story pulls back the curtain on life in a religious community. Not wanting to sacrifice motherhood and juxtaposing the interior life of prayer against getting involved in moving the Church forward, the author finds purpose in life beyond the convent walls as she becomes involved in addressing many of the pressing problems in the church and the world today. After a first marriage and divorce, as a single mother, she meets James Kavanaugh—former priest, poet, and author. Early in their relationship, he lets her know that he loves her, but he wishes she were single…without child. In no small part due to her involvement with him, she loses custody of her son. Her journey offers glimpses into the good and bad of our court system and of an ancient institution—the holy Roman Catholic Church—revealing some of the early cracks that led to its present crumbling.

For Baby Boomers, it will be a walk down memory lane recalling falling in love, marriage, family, divorce, custody battles, single parenting, quasi-open relationships, and women in the workplace. But for subsequent generations, the readers may see themselves reflected in the events of the author’s life as they struggle to determine how to maintain their own identity while falling in love with another person. If their issue is like Kavanaugh’s of wanting to preserve their independence, readers will gradually discover that loving another person not only does not inhibit their freedom but frees them to be their truest and best self. If they identify with the author’s struggles of losing themselves in love, they will discover that creating a purposeful life of their own will help them emerge as their own person. A secondary target audience, not to be discounted, are the millions of people who, over the years, have cultivated a passion for James Kavanaugh poetry.

Book summary:

A Nun’s Journey is Rene Reid’s story of her spiritual and personal passage through love, loss, and rediscovery. From a young age, Rene Reid knew she wanted to do God’s work and become a nun. Immediately after high school graduation in 1962, she joined the Order of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. With the Second Vatican Council in progress in the Catholic Church, she was drawn to the reform movement to transform the Church of so many laws into one that was a loving and all-inclusive community. Unable to pursue theology as a woman religious and questioning her relinquished opportunity for motherhood, Rene left to work professionally for Church renewal.

Rene met and fell in love with James Kavanaugh, the former Catholic priest and poet known for his controversial bestseller A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church. Having her son from a previous marriage was once a joy that soon became a nightmare as custody battles with the father led her momentarily to do the unfathomable: take her son and run away. In their struggle to regain her son, Rene details her relationship with “Jamie” often describing the stories behind how many of his poems came to be as he struggled for independence but found he was unable to live without her love. Kavanaugh was a wanderer, Rene writes, and through his recurring desertion of her over the years and the resulting pain and agony, coupled with this same pattern in her family history, she grew from being deeply entrenched in her abandonment issues to finding wholeness as a woman. Sharing a mutual commitment to reform the Church, Reid’s story is one of realization that, beyond personal ambitions and life goals, love is what matters most.