Emporia book club offers new link to faith
by Jessica Langdon
EMPORIA — Angie Schreiber read a recommendation she couldn’t ignore.
“This is a book for pondering,” wrote Leaven editor Father Mark Goldasich in a 2011 column about the book “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.”
“It is a wise teacher about what faith is ultimately meant to be,” Father Goldasich continued, describing the book by Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, better known to his “homies” in Los Angeles as “G.”
Schreiber, an avid reader and parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in Emporia, was hooked as soon as she read the column. She couldn’t wait to pick up the book.
As she delved into the heartache, faith and hope in a community facing heavy gang issues, however, a thought struck her.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could discuss this?”
And that began a new chapter in faith and fellowship at Sacred Heart Parish in Emporia.
Schreiber, the business manager at the church, extended an invitation in the parish’s bulletin for a January 2012 meeting.
“If nobody shows up, nobody shows up,” she figured.
To her delight, about a dozen people turned out — and had a good discussion.
“So we picked another book,” said Schreiber.
They kept going, pausing only for the busy summer months, and are now back in full swing for the fall.
They usually meet on the third Saturday of the month from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the parish offices.
“It’s fun to hear what other people say about books,” said Schreiber.
The discussions attract parishioners of various ages — and even different types of readers.
Some check out their books from the library.
Others — like Schreiber — are “e-readers,” loading books onto their electronic reading devices when they’re available. (Schreiber loves being able to highlight sections and take notes, just as she would write in the margins of paper books.)
Some even listen to the audio books.
And some still like to buy the traditional hard copy.
Because it’s a book club, the Sacred Heart group gets a discount through the local bookstore, which orders a few copies once it learns what the upcoming books will be.
When pastor Father Rich Warsnak provided the parish with copies of Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism,” discussion attendance spiked because so many people were reading it. Schreiber hopes it sparked some longer- term interest in the group.
Another favorite of many members has been “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin.
A friend introduced book club member Brenda Mears to the story, and Mears couldn’t wait to recommend it to the group.
“I found this true story to be an amazing testament of forgiveness when Immaculée, who was hidden in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for three months and survived the Rwandan holocaust, forgave the killers who murdered her parents and two brothers,” she said. “I felt the group would appreciate Immaculée’s devotion to the Blessed Mother and her strong Catholic faith.”
Parishioners are welcome to share their thoughts or just listen, according to their preference. But Schreiber appreciates hearing other points of view.
“You get those ‘aha’ or epiphany moments you might not have had if you had just read the book yourself,” said Schreiber.
And they always look for ways to apply their discussions in their own lives.
Mears has felt her own faith grow through these discussions.
“We have discussed discipleship, forgiveness, spiritual warfare and Catholic practices,” she said.
“It is so refreshing,” she added, “to read a good book that encourages me to live my life for Christ.”