By Rosemaria.

“My name is Baruch; I know, it’s not a girl’s name, but it’s my name… Mary Baruch, which gives it a nice feminine flavor, yes?… Like all the nuns that came before me, I was dying  to know what name I would receive… I was hoping for the name of one of the Apostles, or one of the Dominican saints… But I learned later that Mother wanted something from the Hebrew Scriptures… I didn’t know the Hebrew Scriptures all that well, and Baruch, for me, was the name of [that] college on Lexington Avenue and 24th Street…I’ve grown to love the name, however, as I know it means ‘Blessed.’… Before all that, I was just a nice Jewish girl from the Upper West Side of Manhattan…”

These quotes from the opening pages–and the lines of innumerable pages along the way–of the delightful fictional story Sister Mary Baruch: The Early Years may ring a bell or two within your heart.  Anyone who has ever been in religious life for any amount of time will find this tale of a young Jewish woman in the 1960s who converts to the Catholic faith and enters a Dominican monastery to mirror some of her own story.  Early on in the book, you will meet her devout Catholic friend who not only challenges her to go jogging (sure, but the tucked-away candy bars certainly help along the way!) but also is the reason she makes her way into a Catholic church to light a candle of hope and prayer one day and finds her life changed forever.  As you follow the spiritual journey of Rebecca-turned-Sr. Mary Baruch, you may see yourself, but for sure, you will laugh, and you may even cry!

Written by a Dominican priest, Fr. Jacob Restrick, the story offers a true inside look at monastery life as you watch Sr. Mary Baruch grow in her walk of holiness.  You will feel her struggles, laugh at her foibles, and rejoice at realistic stories of God’s grace.  And when you get to the end and wish there were more… don’t worry, there is a sequel, Sister Mary Baruch: The Middle Ages.  The only “complaint” I have about the book is that she is fictional:  she seems so real that you will be tempted to pray to her!