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Sister Ignatia - Second Edition: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous [Paperback]

By Mary C. Darrah (Author) & John C. Ford (Foreword by)
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Item description for Sister Ignatia - Second Edition: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous by Mary C. Darrah & John C. Ford...

Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin epitomized the spirit of love, service, and honesty that today are the hallmarks of Alcoholics Anonymous. As a hospital admissions officer in the 1930s in Akron, Ohio, Sr. Ignatia befriended Dr. Bob Smith, co-founder of AA, and courageously arranged for the hospitalization of alcoholics at a time when alcoholism was viewed as a character weakness rather than a disease.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Hazelden Publishing
Pages   300
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2001
Publisher   Hazelden
ISBN  1568387466  
ISBN13  9781568387468  

Availability  3 units.
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More About Mary C. Darrah & John C. Ford

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Darrah is a former addictions counselor and treatment program administrator who now specializes in national public policy issues related to alcohol or drugs.

Mary C. Darrah currently resides in Akron, in the state of Ohio.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
4Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Recovery > Alcoholism
5Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Recovery > Substance Abuse
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Current Events > Poverty > Social Services & Welfare

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Reviews - What do customers think about Sister Ignatia - Second Edition: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Nun Steps Up To The Bar  May 13, 2007
This is a great history of the beginnings of A.A. and of the struggles of Dr. Bob to find a credible medical facility to help in the physical and spiritual recovery of alcoholics. Sr. Ignatia is one more non-alcoholic, like Dr. Silkworth and Fr. Ed Dowling, who serve at a pivotal point in the A.A. story. The author helps us see in Sr. Ignatia's own spiritual and personal biography how uniquely prepared and how providentially generous she was to be able to facilitate Dr. Bob's and A.A.'s program at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. I was intrigued with the seriousness that Sr. Ignatia, the doctors at St. Thomas and the Sisters of Charity in recognizing and attending to the underlying spiritual dimension of alcoholism. They were not the only ones to do this, as the book relates, but they helped bridge the moral/clinical gap that so many professionals and others, then as today, refuse(d) to accept.
I found Sr. Ignatia's life journey very instructive. She was a very diligent teacher of music, professional, and in a sense driven. She had her Waterloo experience in a near nervous breakdown. The doctor asked her if she wanted to be a dead music teacher or a live nun? Thence, began her service as Admissions Director at St. Thomas. She had learned first hand that living life involved ups and downs and that a "mysterious-to-us-at-times" Providence, Power Greater Than Ourselves, God would lead when we were ready to surrender. Living in that awareness allows one to take risks for the good. The story of Sr. Ignatia, Dr. Bob and early A.A. in Akron and Cleveland is a story of risk and fulfillment.
The Mary Darrah Contribution to A.A. History Presentation  Jan 3, 2007
For eighteen years now, I have been researching, analyzing, and pulling together all of the wellsprings of A.A. My area of focus and such expertise as I have concerns the original A.A. program in Akron which derived primarily from the United Christian Endeavor Movement of Dr. Bob's youth in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The Akron program was summarized by Frank Amos in his report to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1938; and its ingredients are a dead ringer for the techniques of the Salvation Army, the Rescue Missions, the principles and practices of Christian Endeavor, and several of the Oxford Group life-changing ideas. But early Akron A.A. was a unit unto itself. On the East Coast, Bill Wilson was formulating his ideas for recovery from the conversion thesis of Dr. Carl Jung, his own conversion at the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission, Ebby Thacher's prior conversion there, and Bill's study of the monumental coverage of such conversion experiences by Professor William James. There is much more, and it is discussed in my latest title The Conversion of Bill W. And later, after the Akron program had earned its spurs as a Christian Fellowship, Wilson was commissioned to write a text which was supposed to describe the original program and flesh it out with testimonials by those who participated. Instead, Bill drew on all the sources in the East, plus some newcomer ideas from Richard Peabody, Sam Shoemaker, Dr. Silkworth, and New Thought writers. Out of this came the Big Book, published in 1939, and very much based on the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker of Calvary Episcopal Church. But Bill left out the rich Akron roots including the Bible, Quiet Time, Anne Smith's teaching and her journal, the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13, and the devotionals like the Upper Room, the books AAs studied such as Drummond's The Greatest Thing in the World, plus what Bill was later to call the "doctrines and dogma" of the missions. The end results of the Wilson pen were a Big Book and Twelve Steps which neither resembled the Akron program nor the conversion picture painted so clearly for Bill by Jung, Hazard, Thacher, Silkworth, James, and even Shoemaker. Because of this jumble, I have spent most of my research time and 31 published titles covering the materials that were left out, are virtually unknown today, and yet produced the astonishing 75% success rate in Akron and the 93% rate in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, author Mary Darrah had been working up her materials on Sister Ignatia of St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. For me, the material seemed at first to be irrelevant to my work on the earliest A.A. But, from the beginning, I noticed the very important pieces of Akron history that Darrah had unearthed and placed in the Ignatia book. I appreciate them even more today. These included: (1) Specific mention of Anne Smith's Journal and its relevance to the Twelve Steps later penned by Wilson. (2) Her delightful phrase that Anne Smith served God and Scripture daily to those who supped at the Smith home each morning. (3) Her highlighting of the close relationship between Ignatia and Dr. Bob's wife Anne. (4) Her providing Ignatia's materials on hospitalization and recovery. While Darrah's history pertained to the period which began after the Big Book was published in 1939 (though Mary tries to make it otherwise), she seemed to grasp the importance of the all-but-forgotten history of Akron A.A. itself. She overrates Ignatia's part in the "founding," but she brings to light one of the major factors that branched forward in Akron during Bill's twelve or so years of major depression. For, in post-big book days, while Bill was suffering from immobilizing depression, it was the work of Clarence Snyder in Cleveland, Dr. Bob and Anne and Ignatia in Akron, Richmond Walker's writings, Father Pfau's writings, Ed Webster's writings, and the materials from local groups that changed the face of A.A. yet allowed it continued growth. By all accounts, Ignatia's contributions in this period were enormous. And I believe that if one looks at the very unusual AA of Akron pamphlets that were written by Evan W., commissioned by Dr. Bob, and circulated from the 1940's to this day, you can see that there was a hearty ember of Bible, Christianity, and devotional practices that was fanned and kept glowing during New York's dark years. And if you look at the original Akron program (1935-1938), the sources of that program, the surviving details as outlined in DR. BOB and The Good Oldtimers, the program at St. Thomas Hospital as spelled out by Darrah, and the Akron pamphlets, you can see a deeply religious foundation in the A.A. program which no one seemed to understand any better than Sister Ignatia. My recommendation? Look at A.A. from a chronological standpoint--not the tired and erroneous timelines still being circulated. Look at the Akron beginnings in Vermont and the program that emerged and produced the pioneer 40 in Akron and their cures. Look then at the beginnings in the East Coast and the original emphasis by Bill on conversion--sparked probably by his own grandfather Willie's conversion and healing of alcoholism. Then look at the Big Book program and Twelve Steps that Bill fashioned in 1938 and 1939 largely from the Oxford Group teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker. At that point, you have three major legs of our history. Then came Bill's long devastating depression, the new ideas and writings that sprang into being, coupled with Clarence Snyder's consistent championing of the Big Book, the Steps, the Bible, and the Four Absolutes and Ignatia's priceless work with beginners that did not diminish or detract from the Christian principles and Bible roots and did produce worthy results. The Darrah book is very valuable if one wishes to see the biography of A.A. from 1934 through 1955 when major and substantially different changes were placed in cement with A.A. Comes of Age, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and the St. Louis Convention. Good for Mary. See a summary of the foregoing picture, including Darrah's findings, Ignatia's role, the St. Thomas story, and the important Akron picture in the 1940's in my title Real Twelve Step Fellowship History. Dick B.
Great Topic, Poor Writing  Jun 26, 2005
Mary Darrah deserves credit for tackling the biography of a tremendously overlooked personality from AA's past. The story of the little Nun is covered in detail. Darrah does a good job of getting the facts down.

However, this book suffers from stilted language and poor organization. The narrative conveys no passion or excitment, something I'm sure the writer must have possesed in order to cover such an obscure figure as Sister Ignatia. The chapters are not organizaed well and do not flow evenly into each other.
IT almost has the feel of one of those bad textbooks you had in high school.

However, it's still worth laying out the money for this book if you're desiring a better understanding of AA history.
An excellent historical document for all to read  Aug 21, 1999
Mary Darrah's book on Sr. Ignatia is an excellent historical document for all to read whether or not they are in recovery from alcohol or other drugs. This book is an accurate historical account of both the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as the life of a compassionate yet tough woman.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in the truth about AA history. It is interesting, informative and enlightening.

Mitchell K. (Author of HOW IT WORKED, The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio)

This book was key to my understanding of how AA works.  Nov 23, 1998
In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous, the recovery rate was about seventy five per cent. Today, the recovery rate is less than one per cent. In the early days of AA, 1935 to 1945, the founders of AA (Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith and Sister Ignatia) operated under the concept that alcoholism was the indication of a spiritual illness. You first took away the alcohol, let the patient go through the withdrawal, and then they trained the alcoholic to be a spiritual person, both by learning to pray, (any religion would do) and then to pass your victory on to other suffering alcoholics. As AA grew, it began to be accepted in government run hospitals. And anything to do with the government has to have nothing to do with religion. So they began to treat alcoholics with psychiatry and downplayed the religious angle, hence the much lower recovery rate. Groups that use religion to treat alcoholics, like Teen Challenge, have an 80% recovery rate. When Sister Ignatia was helping to steer the recovery boat, along with Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob and the assent to Grace, recovery from alcoholism was possible for the first time on this planet. The other influence working against AA's religious methods was the birth, in the late 50's, of political correctness which fears surrender to religion (of ALL kinds) Reading this book about Sr. Ignatia has strenghthened my spirituality in AA. I just celebrated fourteen years sober.

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