Mother JoEllen and Bishop Kera on the cover

The book cover is done and I love it.  Thanks to the Columbia University Press graphics design team which has gone above and beyond (and not only with this cover) in the publication process.  Thank you to Susan Collins, who took the photograph and gave permission to use it. Finally, thank you to Mother JoEllen Werthman and Bishop Kera Hamilton, pictured on the cover and “stars” of chapter 6.  The photo shows the ordination of JoEllen to the diaconate in Philadelphia in late 2005.

The Other Catholics is about independent Catholicism – Catholics who are not under the pope, numbering about a million in the U.S. and many more worldwide.  Without a pope, they can experiment a lot more. The independent Catholics in my story have been doing clerical marriage, women’s ordination and same-sex marriage for decades already.  Publication is on track for early 2016.

A book cover is usually out of the author’s hands, while she lets genius design and marketing people do their thing.  I did have some input, though.  Women’s ordination is the most immediate “wow” of the book, so I suggested that for the cover image.  It would be no problem to find such an image, because independent Catholics are ordination shutterbugs.  Yet it was a problem.  Design and marketing said all the photos looked staged and would not work for selling a trade book.  Finally I sent this one, which I had withheld because I thought it was too low a resolution.  But design loved it and here we are.

The photo is not staged.  Sue Collins attended the ordination of her friend JoEllen and snapped the shot in the moment.

I think something of the magic of the moment comes through.

Bishop Kera said she felt it was “a once-in-a-lifetime” photo as soon as she saw it for the first time.  She has a poster-sized print hanging in her living room.  “It’s symbolic of what a number of us are trying to do with our vocations,” Kera wrote.

If she means that independent Catholic vocations are tender but strong, full of shadow and light, and affect the world visibly but also ineffably, then I agree.  I’ve seen that first-hand.  That’s why I wrote the book.


    1. Thank you, Father Begonja, for this note & all your work! I’m grateful for authors in my circles sharing “the process” as you say.

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