On Saturday 12th December in Resource Centre Cabra, Sr. Maeve McMahon’s book – A Dream of Fire: A Story about Dominic Guzman was launched.
Below read introduction by Sr. Helen Mary Harmey OP
Good Afternoon sisters, the McMahon family, friends and many supporters here today! It is good to see some of the friars here also.
It is my pleasure and a privilege to be here today to congratulate Sister Maeve on her great achievement that is, publishing her second book.
Before we get to launching A Dream of Fire and smashing open the champagne bottles, I would like to share why it is special for me to do this launch.
Maeve and I go back a long way, to the early sixties where we together learnt about the Dominican Order, its mission and what made it different to other Orders. We shared many questions, excitement, and enthusiasm about the history of the Order and about our own Congregation. So one could say it is a significant and emotional moment. Maeve would love me saying that as she loves the little bit of emotion and nostalgia!
It is also very special as this year we have started the celebrations of 800 years since the founding of the Order. The Dominican Order consists of friars, nuns, apostolic sisters and lay women and men. The Order was recognised by Pope Honorius III in 1216. It is a great landmark for the Mission Area of Ireland to have Maeve’s book published as part of this celebration.
You know we were often told that one should not judge a book by its cover. The cover of A Dream of fire, a story about Dominic Guzman gives lie to that adage. This cover for me is alive, inviting, with a sense of urgency and holds the key to the whole book. It depicts a localised setting in Spain and yet moves us beyond the castle walls to the world at large by the movement of the flaming torch. In the book we are also moved beyond the immediate story to the bigger story of our present world.
The story is written in everyday language that is readable and flows from one chapter to another, engaging the reader in the development of Dominic and the evolution of his calling in life. The homely imagery and vocabulary used is suited to our day. It is neither holy, moralistic nor archaic! Maeve manages meticulous research to portray Dominic as an attractive human being, a person whose life unfolds and whose mission, vocation, service develops and evolves in the circumstances and events of his life.
Throughout the story Maeve comes through as the educator she is, in the way she discretely helps the reader to make links and connections for example, between the Scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament and everyday life; between Dominic’s times and our own. I found it inspiring how Maeve held up elements that we hold dear from our Tradition, the values of which are needed today: truth, open debate, communication, search for meaning and the importance of sound theology, or god talk. These are stated simply and in a way understated which revealed them all the more strongly.
It is heartening to read unglossed or fudged over the failures in the church, the violence of the crusades or the failures of a group of nuns in Rome. Together with that clarity is the refreshing role of women and men in the vision of Dominic. This book is written for young adults but I think all adults would find it interesting inspiring and offers a fresh look at our founder Dominic and his dream which is God’s dream for humanity.
Congratulations Maeve on a job superbly executed. We are proud of your achievement as an author and I am sure your family join me in that sentiment also. I know that Teresa, your mother, would be proud of you “Miss Maeve” as she would say. There is a copy for everyone in the audience – at a price!
We may now bring on the champagne.
Sister Helen Mary Harmey,O.P., Congregation Prioress