When the Saints Came Marching In moves seamlessly between past and present, bringing to life a host of "spacious souls" and North American saints proclaimed "by acclamation." A few widely known and many often overlooked, these are people celebrated by their contemporaries for their goodness of heart, witness to faith, and courage for justice. At a moment in our social history when cynicism seems the norm and acerbic criticism has become all too automatic, Coffey locates the diamonds in the rough, turning their lives for us in the light with her usual directness, humor and clarity. In the humanity of these variegated saints we see a reflection of our own, and a luminous reflection, as Coffey suggests, of the church Pope Francis calls us to be. I love Coffey's earthy, expansive, sacramental vision.
Christopher Pramuk, Xavier University, Author of At Play in Creation: Merton's Awakening to the Feminine Divine
Kathy Coffey has given us a book of American saints for the era of Pope Francis. Where her title metaphor focuses on the American penchant for exploring frontiers, the book's saints-some canonized, others simply recognized-made me also think of Francis' metaphor of going out to the streets of our world. The saints Coffey covers, in brief readable chapters, are all "gutsy realists"-a memorable phrase used to describe Sr. Dorothy Stang. And all wonderfully human, warts and all. I learned about saints I'd never known, and learned more about others I thought I knew. In the end the book made me think of all the saints among us in this country-so much good news to counter all the bad news that fills our headlines and our heads.
John F. Kane, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Regis University
In this compact and creative series of meditations on 14 saints and a batch of "Glorious Nobodies," Coffey illuminates their lives and legacies. Make no mistake about it, the saints that the author has chosen to write about are courageous and adventuresome souls.
Spirituality & Practice
Kudos to Kathy Coffey for this collection of "open, sociable, normal, happy companions," just the kind of saints Pope Francis says we need. In her characteristically engaging and entertaining prose, Coffey helps us entertain the notion that the path toward sainthood is the very ground on which we stand. Be prepared for the spaciousness that emerges in these stories, both in the vast terrain of landscape these men and women traversed and in their very souls. It is in these wide open places that God enters, grace abounds, and lives are transformed in love."
Mary Stommes, editor of Give Us This Day
Uh-oh. Here comes marching in a book that won't ever again let us say, `But the saints aren't anything like us.' Read, if you dare, about the courageous, cantankerous, saintly people who lived in America in their time, but changed the world for all time.
Kathy McGovern, author of the weekly scripture column The Story and You
Coffey's book will engage readers interested in American history, faith, and inspirational figures. What I appreciate most, though, is the book's spirit of connection-between writer and reader-to North America, and to the communion of saints, which inspires us to be better people as we continue to encounter ever-new frontiers of grace.
St. Anthony Messenger
Kathy Coffey makes America shine through its saints and its saints radiate new light in an American context. She is one of the best Catholic writers I know, and has written a book about saints that is like no other. It will expand your ideas about holiness and make your heart glow.
Michael Leach, author of Why Stay Catholic?