Saint and a Sinner: The Rise and Fall of a Beloved Catholic Priest, by Stephen Donnelly and Diane O’Bryan, is a memoir of Former Catholic Priest Fr. Stephen Donnelly. It tells the life story of Donnelly – from his childhood to his eventual exit from the ministry.
The book is a real-life story that tells a truth most of us are not willing to accept – no one is sinless or perfect, even religious leaders. Donnelly’s story also proves that what we go through during childhood has a great impact on our character and the choices we make as adults.
From the title, it’s obvious that Donnelly is not perfect. However, what eventually gets him booted from the priesthood, is a “lesser” evil compared to the thing he had done in the past. Unfortunately for him, he got caught at a time when the Catholic Church was trying to save face from the ever-increasing allegations against priests.
For me, the book was an immersive experience. It took me into the world of a Catholic priest; their way of life, virtues, and challenges. It was also a page-turner – the chapters flow naturally and chronologically, and the story is so captivating that you will have a hard time putting the book down.
What I liked most about this book is the vivid first-person narration of events. While other memoirs plainly recall events, Donnelly and O’Bryan chose to include even the conversations that happened. Ultimately, that made the story more real, engaging, and entertaining.
Saint and a Sinner is one of the most riveting memoirs I have read this year. The story was a candid look at one man who battles his inner demons. Whether you are religious or not, you will definitely find this a thought-provoking read.