University of Rochester

Author's Family Story Reflects Recent Church History

October 23, 2006

The son of a priest and former nun whose marriage in the 1960s drew reaction from around the world will give a talk at the University of Rochester about his memoir and about American religious experience.

Peter Manseau, an author whose commentaries can be heard on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, will speak at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus. The program is free and open to the public.

In his book Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son, Manseau traces how his parents met while ministering in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood with the highest crime rate in the 1960s. His mother left her vocation before marrying, but his father refused to renounce his vows and has continued to fight for official reinstatement. The couple received letters from all over the world when they married, some of support, but many of outrage.

Manseau's memoir reflects the upbringing that shaped him and his two siblings and provides a lens through which the recent history of the church in America can be reconsidered. In his talk, Manseau will discuss issues such as celibacy and sex, abuse and punishment, and the meaning of the religious life not just for Catholics but anyone interested in the power, possibilities, and risks of faith. He will also draw on anecdotes from his first book, Killing the Buddha, which describes his year-long exploration of the spiritual lives of ordinary people across the United States.

A founder and editor of the online magazine, Manseau speaks often on religion in American life and has appeared on national media including NBC's Today Show and NPR's Fresh Air. His commentaries also have appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times Magazine.

Manseau's talk is sponsored by the Department of Religion and Classics. For more information, contact (585) 275-5378.