You can't throw truth at people so that all they can do is duck.
’Monika K. Hellwig
Though Monika Hellwig is well known in theological circles, what is not so widely known is how theology led her into a whole new way of life. Refugees from the Nazis, Monika and her two sisters were sent as children to live in Great Britain with an academic couple who provided them with a loving home and an excellent education. The notion of home became a central motif in Hellwig's spiritual/theological understanding of life.
For fourteen years she was "at home" with the Medical Mission Sisters, expecting to be assigned to Pakistan. Instead she was sent to the Catholic University of America where systematic theology and scriptural studies enlarged her intellectual horizon. That experience, together with the Second Vatican Council's emphasis on the imperative of the lay vocation, altered the course of her life. She left her religious community and enthusiastically embraced her baptismal calling. Everything that followed’her academic work and writing, her masterful teaching within and outside the academy, her adopting three children as a single mother, her sense of responsibility to her parish and to several prayer groups’reflects her intentional living out of the lay vocation until the moment of her death in 2005.
The contributors to this first biography of Hellwig write from their intimate knowledge of some facet of her rich and challenging life. Together they create a portrait of a woman who was teacher and author, poet and administrator, a mother and a contemplative in action’a "people's theologian"’with whom readers will feel at home.
Ultimately, Hellwig, through these pages, is still teaching: teaching us that our Christian commitment must infuse the totality of our lives. The book constantly affirms her faith, her brilliance, her compassion and her humility, a rare combination that was a gift to all whose lives she touched and those she continues to impact through her intellectual and spiritual legacy.
National Catholic Reporter
A solid addition to biography and philosophy collections. Highly recommended.
The Midwest Book Review
These seven essays devoted to the memory of Dr. Monica Hellwig get at the mind, heart, and spirit of the woman.
St. Anthony Messenger
William James wrote that saints are `clearers of the darkness . . . vivifiers and animaters of potentialities of goodness which but for them would be forever dormant.' Monika sought to communicate theological truth to the people of God while living out her vocation as mother, teacher, and spiritual guide. She cleared the darkness of our minds and animated the good in many she met. This powerful collection of essays shows the heroic virtues of a remarkable woman, the people's theologian. Her story is ably told by the cloud of witnesses who contribute their insights to this book.
Terrence W. Tilley, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology, Chair, Theology Department, Fordham University
Extraordinary tales about an extraordinary woman, each chapter focusing on a different facet of Monika Hellwig's powerful living of the lay vocation. The effect is that of a stained glass window, with light shining through in myriad colors. Read it and laugh, weep, be inspired. Above all, take courage that such a life has been lived among us.
Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, Distinguished Professor of Theology,Fordham University
In these seven essays the shards of a life of a remarkable pioneering woman theologian, teacher, administrator, poet, and mother take form revealing the expansive Christian commitment to which each of us is called. Sophisticated yet humble, learned yet generous and accessible, Monika Hellwig was driven by a bedrock faith to serve God and her fellows. She found her vocation at the intersection of her own unique capabilities and the world's great needs. She was as Ireneaus allowed: a human fully alive and hence the glory of God.
Dana Greene, Author of Evelyn Underhill: Artist of the Infinite Life and The Living of Maisie Ward