Springtime Hope 

This time last year I wrote my first Blog with the desire to entertain, brighten and perhaps to allow my readers to pause for thought. I began by describing the beauty of the South of France that was just awakening from a sleepy lockdown, where everyone felt joy at being alive, and to be finally witnessing the spring sunshine with renewed hope.
I was also in the process of editing a memoir ‘People I Met on the Way’ that explores the life of Joseph Dillon, who became a Divine Word Missionary priest in 1972 and headed to Brazil. As a Liberation Theologist, he helped to empower communities in the remotest areas of the Amazon River to have access to better health and educational opportunities. In the favelas of Sao Paulo, he witnessed senseless murders and merciless crimes, and yet he set up health projects in parishes, bringing floral and herbal remedies to the thousands of people who lived in these lawless communities who longed for a more peaceful life.  
Now, a year later, Father Joe’s memoir is ready for publication and my year as an editor is almost complete. I say ‘almost’ in that the final artwork and tweaks are being done by the illustrator, including the front and back cover, the spine and of course incorporating the pre-publication reviews. This has been the most fascinating and perhaps the most nail-biting aspect of being an editor. 
Once I had the final 30 chapters assembled into a chronological sequence, with clearly identified themes and ensuring some human-interest stories that readers could relate to, I wanted to make sure that in my final cuts, I hadn’t lost the gentle, warm, compassionate tone of Fr Joe’s narrative voice in my effort to be succinct.  A bit like an over-zealous gardener, I didn’t want to be found guilty of trimming back so much lush greenery, that I was left with only the bare landscape.  And having worked so closely for a year on the original 200,000 plus word manuscript, it was time to step back, and let the reviews speak for themselves. 
The first critique came back within a couple of days: “A wonderful insight into a lifelong ministry. A very readable and enjoyable memoir.”  It was concise and encouraging. The reviewer also mentioned that he would possibly be incorporating some of Fr Joe’s methods of Friendship Groups within his own parish. 
The second arrived after a week: “This book takes us into the deepest recesses of the Amazon and the overcrowded lives of the indigenous urban population in Sao Paulo. 
Father Joseph's life of creative, courageous, and compassionate engagement with the people of Brazil is a story of liberative faith and hope against all the odds.  An eye-opening, inspiring call to action and change!”   I was delighted with these words, and again felt encouraged. 
The third came within three weeks with apologies for taking so long, said: 
“Father Joseph’s readiness to be involved in community life in various parishes encouraged many people to become involved in local programmes and learning. This is an account of a life well lived and should be shared with young people in our secondary schools and youth groups. Father Joe is a wonderful role model.” This was from a former educational adviser.
The final and most heartening of all critiques for me as a first-time editor came in at the last minute  from a young eco scientist, who dispelled all my misgivings of perhaps throwing the baby out with the bath water. He said:
“It’s a brilliant read! My favourite chapter is Chapter 5: ‘Banana’s, Tea and Man’s Inhumanity to Man’. Fr Joe is entirely without ego and his warm, compassionate voice is strong throughout.  The last line is amazing.  When can I go to Brazil?” 
And so, as a gardener who has lovingly tended his patch over the year, protecting it from the autumn frosts, and tweaking it throughout the bleak winter days, and now in the midst of a joyous spring, as a first-time editor, I am now ready to let go of ‘People I Met on the Way’ by Father Joseph Dillon, SVD and wish it a long and fruitful summer. 

To order a copy of ‘People I Met on the Way’, please contact me by clicking this link for my contact page.

Price £12.


Meet the Author

Father Joseph Dillon, SVD, will be visiting Scotland from the 20th – 29th May 2023. 

He will be presenting at Gavin’s Mill in Milngavie on Wednesday 24th May at 7pm-9pm. 

He will also be celebrating the publication of his book after 5pm evening Mass at St Andrew’s RC church Bearsden in the Lower Church Hall on Saturday 27th May at 6pm and doing Book Signings at the Coffee Morning in the Upper Hall after 10am and 12 noon Mass. 

8 responses to “Springtime Hope ”

  1. Looking forward to meeting Father Joe in person and putting a face to such a wonderful story.

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