How does one go from being a fervent Catholic to becoming a religious agnostic? This memoir is the story of Walter Keady’s journey, travailing from a conservative Catholic upbringing in Ireland when ‘the whole country was a monastery,’ through his agitating for right-wing religious policies that culminated in his decision to become a priest, through his missionary career in Brazil while Vatican II awakened the Catholic world from slumber, to his loss of religious faith stemming from issues like birth control and celibacy. Keady, author of five published novels set in Ireland, tells his story with extraordinary honesty, without sparing either himself or the religious milieu that shaped his life. His recounting of battles with sex and celibacy is central and poignant.
Walter Keady - Curriculum Vitae Born in County Mayo, Ireland. Grew up on a farm. Employed in the Irish Civil Service before going on to study for the Catholic priesthood. After BA at University College, Dublin, and four years study of theology at Holy Ghost Missionary College, Kimmage, ordained priest. Served as a missionary in Brazil. Resigned the priesthood and came to the United States. Worked for IBM as a software engineer. Writer, 1994 - present. Lives in upstate New York, with wife Jennifer.
Publications: CELIBATES AND OTHER LOVERS (1997, MacMurray & Beck), MARY MCGREEVY (1998, MacMurray & Beck). THE ALTRUIST (MacAdam/Cage, 2003). THE DOWRY (St Martin’s Press, Winter 2007). THE AGITATOR (Castletree Books, 2012) BEING AND BECOMING (Castletree Books, 2014) Short stories (Modern Maturity, March 1998), The Recorder (Journal of American-Irish Historical Society) 2004.
An incredibly readable account of the formation of a young Irish priest (very well told and fascinating for my research), his missionary years in Brazil (definitely one of the most interesting and relevant parts), the awakening of his conscience against Catholic doctrine (moving and compassionate, which did him credit), and his transition to agnosticism (the least interesting bits but only a few pages). Keady is an excellent fiction author in his own right, but his self-analysis in this memoir only goes so far. Nevertheless, an excellent retelling of a fascinating life.