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Pope receives Mary Hembrow Snyder book as gift

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Several years ago when Mercyhurst University’s Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D., agreed to collaborate with Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, in editing the book Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, she never imagined the accolades that would follow its publication.

Just recently, the book earned an honorable mention from the Catholic Press Association, which each year celebrates Catholic journalists, authors, publishers and media professionals for their exceptional work. A year ago, the book was recognized among "The Best Spiritual Books of 2014” by About, a multifaith website devoted to resources for spiritual journeys.

But perhaps the most thrilling acknowledgment of all, according to Snyder, professor of religious studies and director of the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies at Mercyhurst, is the presentation of her book to Pope Francis.

“He actually had his hands on it,” she said upon viewing a photo in which Erie Benedictine Sister Anne McCarthy is seen presenting the book to him during a private audience in Rome.

McCarthy was in Rome participating in a dialogue between Buddhists and Catholics, “Dialogue and Fraternity,” sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. McCarthy represented the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

“It was so powerful to be talking to Pope Francis about Joan’s writings,” McCarthy said.

Even in abstentia, Snyder admitted it was pretty powerful for her, too.