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Once A Catholic: Prominent Catholics and Ex-Catholics Reveal the Influence of the Church on Their Life and Work 

Once A Catholic: Prominent Catholics and Ex-Catholics Reveal the Influence of the Church on Their Life and Work 

An oral history of some of the most outspoken and introspective Catholics and former Cathoics in the United States, Once A Catholic offers up a unique and lively conversation about the subtle impact of the Church on a wide range of artists and writers, theologians and clergy, men and women who share the indelible imprint of having grown up Catholic.


Separate chapters focus on autobiographical accounts of such engaging and articulate figures as Pulitzer Prize journalist and novelist Jimmy Breslin, comic and best-selling author George Carlin, popular and critically acclaimed novelist Mary Gordon, film great Martin Scorsese, former presidential candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy, conservative spokesman Michael Novak, former nun and political activist Elizabeth McAlister, former light heavyweight champion of the world Jose Torres, novelist Robert Stone, prioress and columnist SisterJoan Chittister, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, and musician extraordinaire Frank Zappa—among others.


Discussing everything from the positive influence on Catholic girls of attending schools run entirely by religious women to an almost universal dissatisfaction with the Mass in English, these 26 highly original thinkers provide insights not only into the mark left by Catholicism on their life and creative work, but also into the state of Roman Catholicism today.

Praise for Once a Catholic

"Like votive candles in a dark nook of a cathedral, striking statements flicker throughout Once A Catholic, combin[ing] warm storytelling with what is often sound theology. Twenty-six one-stripe-or-another Catholics . . . express, often in prose as softly powerful as benediction incense, how their souls are faring these blessedly diverse days."  

Colman McCarthy, Washington Post


"The author allows his subjects to speak without the intrusive and show-offy questions that slow down so many interviews, yet directs them so they tell the reader what the reader wants to know."  Eileen Simpson, author of Orphans


"The author knows how to conduct an interview so effectively that one is aware only of the personality of the interviewee. His subjects speak for themselves and draw their own self-portraits." Catholic Standard (Washington, D.C.)


"This is a wonderful book that explores the profound impact of Catholicism on a fascinating variety of personalities. It is not only entertaining and informative, but as rich as an archaeological dig in its revelations about the layers of the soul and the mystery of Catholicism."   Eugene Kennedy, author of Tomorrow's Catholics / Yesterday's Church


"This would be the book to put in the hands of Pope John Paul II, if he were out to understand American Catholicism."  Los Angeles Times.

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