Author Donald F. Fausel was raised in the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, when prescribed beliefs were rarely questioned and blind obedience to authority trumped following one’s conscience. Through a process of developing an informed conscience and learning to think critically, his journey led him to a more responsible faith, while remaining in his Catholic tradition. This memoir recalls Fausel’s life experiences, his reflections on those events, and how they affected his spiritual journey-from his birth in 1929; his formative years; his life in the seminary and ordination in 1957; his nine years in the active ministry, ending with a dispensation from the Vatican in 1972; and his continued journey as a married Catholic. Dr. Fausel reflects on a range of faith-related issues: the differences between faith and beliefs; abortion and artificial birth control; the doctrine of infallibility; the danger of relying solely on the magisterium; the charism of celibacy and mandatory celibacy; the place of women in the church and the ordination of women; the effect of the new cosmology on our image of God and on our place in the Universe. Not only does his memoir frame the events that shaped his life, but it provides reflections to help others in their faith journey.
About the Author:
Donald F. Fausel is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University’s School of Public Program, where he taught and held administrative posts for thirty years. After his retirement in 1998 he was a faculty member at Walden University, where he taught in their Health and Human Services PhD program. He received his licentiate degree in sacred theology (STL) from St. Mary’s Seminary and Pontifical University in Baltimore, MD, and his doctoral degree from Columbia University in New York City. Fausel lives at the Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix with his wife Jane. He can be reached at email@example.com or on his website: www.ReponsibleFaith.com
Customer Reviews from amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is from: From Blind Obedience to a Responsible Faith: The Memoir of a Cradle Catholic (Paperback)
This is a great book to be read by all, not only those who grew up in the era of BLIND OBEDIENCE. Those of us who did, never questioned what we were told, because we were afraid to. I agree totally with the author’s view on the “Primacy of Conscience”, something I have come to realize in my own life, as a practicing Catholic. I have recommended the book to many of my friends.
Dr. Donald F. Fausel has provided a crisp examination of his early Catholic upbringing, life as a priest, husband, stepfather, and professor. His efforts have produced an interesting, reflective, personal story of his trials with leading a celibate life and his adventures after leaving the clergy. He integrates in his memoir world events that shaped his views of the church and his hopes for change within the church. His topics include issues of faith and beliefs, the primacy of conscience and related sociological problems. This memoir is a must read for Catholics and others looking for a delightful read that is both thought provoking and an insider’s view of life within the Catholic Church and much more.
The book is about one man’s spiritual journey. His beginning was initiated within a traditional, religious ethnic worldview of his time, in the author’s case: an Irish Catholic culture of the 1930s and enclosed from the larger American experience. In this restricted culture, Don Fausel received and accepted certain beliefs about all the important questions of life required to progress in his journey through life. The only requirement was blind obedience which was role-modeled by his family, at Catholic schools, and in his parish. There is no doubt that he thrived in those early formative years and then, after high school, chose to be its leader by entering the seminary. After being ordained, he was given the opportunity to pursue further education in Social Work in a New York City University where he was introduced to critical thinking and experienced a larger cultural environment of the 60s that was in dramatic change. The path of his journey began to take a turn from accepting beliefs about life blindly to searching for a responsible faith. This path led him out of the official church into the world of the university and involvement with social action organizations as well as to explore personal and family relationships. At eighty, he is still asking the questions which continue to provide vitality to his living faith.
As I read about Don Fausel’s journey, I was reminded of my own spiritual path, if you will. I would expect any person intent on living a more aware and responsible life would enjoy and benefit from reading this memoir. The path that is described is a path which many of us are on and this story can provide inspiration and motivation to continue walking.. The chapters are divided into two parts: a description of various periods, which include the facts of the author’s life and the second part is his reflections on each period listing the subjective changes that he experienced. The book is an easy read because Dr. Fausel is an accomplished writer.
I am not a “cradle Catholic”, or even a latter-day Catholic, but I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of a priest who left the priesthood, partly because of the requirement of mandatory celibacy, but mainly because of his disagreement with other beliefs of the Church. Dr. ausel shares his soul-searching memories of his life as a Catholic from birth throughout his entire life as he approached his 80th birthday. He describes in great detail (with photos) his intimate journey through his times of becoming a priest, his life as a priest (including his first sexual adventures), his growing disenchantment with Church teachings and structure, his separation from the priesthood, his life as a professor and associate dean of social work at Arizona State University, and his varied experiences as husband and step-father. Dr. Fausel shares with the reader his intellectual and emotional struggles with such difficult issues as contraception, abortion, celibacy, dogmatism, and authoritarianism in terms of Church structure.
While I believe this book will have special appeal to Catholic priests who have left the priesthood and for those who want to bring structural and doctrinal change to the Church, I think non-Catholics like me also will find much to like about the book. Only a tiny portion of the population become priests and the world of the priest is a bit mysterious to most non-Catholics. Dr. Fausel’s life as a priest, and later as a family man, reveals that he struggled deeply with the same issues and challenges that almost everyone faces. The chapters move back and forth between recollections and reflections. I found the movement back and forth disconcerting and, at times, jolting. In my opinion, this book could be two books. But think of it this way: the reader gets two books for the price of one!
I highly recommend the book to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.