Author hopes her experiences touch lives of others

  • October 5, 2013

TORONTO - Sr. Marie Paul Curley is bringing the saints to life in her two newly launched books.

She continues to live out her vocation as a writer through the consecrated life with Saints Alive! The Faith Proclaimed and Saints Alive! The Gospel Witnessed, co-authored with Sr. Mary Lea Hill.

In The Faith Proclaimed, 31 saints are matched with a sacrament or a beatitude. In The Gospel Witnessed, another 31 saints are matched with Gospel passages.

These volumes, Curley’s fourth and fifth books still in print, are meant to inspire readers to live “the Gospel, the Beatitudes and a full sacramental life.”

“Every time I start a new book, I have to really pray about it and (think) what is Jesus inviting me to share from my own experience that might really touch the life of somebody else,” she said.

These books are meant to make the saints more relatable.

“We tried to make each book universal, to stretch across the globe... So I think each book has at least one Canadian saint, at least one African saint, at least one South American saint,” Curley said.

The Canadian saints present in the books include Kateri Tekakwitha, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Noël Chabanel.

“We tried to make sure we had plenty of lay saints in the books because... what do you do if you’re a Catholic mom and you’re a working mom, what saint do you go to? We wanted to finds saints for everybody.”

The Daughters of St. Paul, the order to which Curley belongs, are all about spirituality and communication in every form of media. Both of Curley’s Saints Alive! books were launched at the Pauline Books and Media store in Toronto.

A Boston-native, Curley lived in Toronto for 9 1/2 years. She was recently called back to Boston to continue her work.

“She’s very warm and open and generous, and so she definitely created a warm environment here, so whenever I came to the bookstore, she was always someone that I would look for to say hi to,” said Michelle Duklas, who attended a retreat with Curley.

Canada was the first time Curley lived outside of the United States for a significant amount of time.

Toronto has “opened my eyes in a very beautiful way in terms of understanding better the many cultures that make up our world and make up the city of Toronto. It’s a privilege to be living in such a multicultural city,” said Curley.

“Canadians have big hearts and have made me feel so at home here from the beginning... We talk about being a missionary and we think we’re being sent, but actually we receive so much more.”

Since the age of 15, Curley knew with certainty she had a religious calling. Her parents were wary of their daughter making such a serious decision at a young age. But after staying a week with the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, she missed their sense of prayer and purpose. And she was attracted to the eucharistic spirit of the Pauline sisters.

“My vocation and the clarity that came to follow my vocation was really a gift,” said Curley. “I missed the sense of communion we had as a group working and praying together. I just missed them (the sisters) so much it became very clear this is where God wants me.”

It was unusual for girls to join the convent in high school, but Curley entered during the tail end of the order’s high school program, which is no longer offered.

“There was an urgency that Jesus was calling me to this now, and I wanted to do it. There was an excitement about it,” she said.

As a Pauline sister, Curley has missioned in Boston, Chicago, Texas and Pennsylvania. While in Toronto, she also wrote an occasional column for The Catholic Register. She says she enjoyed the opportunity to “explore the spiritual connections between faith and culture.”

“I will miss writing for The Register, but I will especially miss people coming up to me — on the street and in parishes — to give me feedback on my articles. That kind of mutual dialogue and enrichment is exactly what I hope to nurture as a writer.”

Curley hopes she will have a few more missions before she slows down.

“We don’t retire. We go into more contemplative praying and offering,” she said on the idea of retirement. If health and age force her to slow down one day, she will turn to the Internet to live out her vocation.

“Depending on what the state of the Internet is by then, I think I’m just going to want to be in Catholic chat rooms all over the place and evangelizing.”

Curley is also a blogger.

“The blog windowstothesoul. really came out of my desire to explore and share with other people this spirituality that we have as Paulines as communicators, a spirituality that nurtures, that always focuses on the human element in communications,” said Curley. “The technology is there and it’s a tremendous gift that we can use.”

Film is a technology that holds a special place in Curley’s heart.

“I enjoy writing for film that others can be touched through what I envision as a great story... You’ve also got sound and picture and music and subtext and dialogue. You’ve got the power of word, you’ve got the power of the image. I think above all you’ve got the power of story, which I think speaks very much to the people of our time,” she said.

Curley hasn’t had anything produced in film — yet. But no matter what potential mediums she may venture into, from film to smartphone apps, Curley knows that there is a “sense of love for the other person in every act of communication.”

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