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Memoirs of a Yukon Priest [Paperback]

By Segundo Llorente (Author) & Louis L. Renner (Foreword by)
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Item description for Memoirs of a Yukon Priest by Segundo Llorente & Louis L. Renner...

This is an engagingly personal account of the hardships, challenges, and rewards of a life lived wholly in the presence of God and at the service of the Alaskan people. In September 1935, Segundo Llorente, a wide-eyed twenty-eight-year-old Jesuit priest from Spain set foot in Alaska for the the first time. His memoirs are filled with all that he saw, endured, and enjoyed for forty years in Uncle Sam's "icebox," whether by dogsled in the 1930s or by plane and snowmobile in the 1970s. He prayed, worked, scolded, helped, and laughed with a practical wisdom that recalls the Ignatian spirituality in everyday life that also marks Father Walter Cisek's Russian journal, "He Leadeth Me."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Georgetown University Press
Pages   252
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2002
Publisher   Georgetown University Press
Age  22
ISBN  0878403612  
ISBN13  9780878403615  

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Adventurers & Explorers
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work

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Superb Writing; Superb Story  Jun 13, 2007
"Memoirs of a Yukon Priest "by Segundo Llorente Georgetown University Press, 1990.
This is the autobiography of a Spaniard,(born in Leon, Spain), who spent most of his adult life as a missionary to the natives of Alaska. At the age of ten, Llorente went to the local preseminary school, where "...the main academic fare was Latin eight hours a day". Then, he studied at the Jesuit novitiate in Castile and, at twenty, he made plans to go to Alaska, which had no native priests. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in the United States, where he studied English at Gonzaga University. This illustrates one of the main themes in this book: language. Fr. Llorente had to first learn Spanish, then Latin, then English, and then the different Eskimo (Inuit) languages. In 1935, the author was a"...full-fledged priest" and, in the midst of the Great Depression, he was able to earn enough money to purchase a brand-new typewriter with Spanish characters, with which he intended to "... support myself in Alaska by writing for publication in his spare times". He must have written very well since the WEB lists quite a few books, in Spanish, under his name.

After the first seven pages of the book, introducing his life, the author spends the remainder of the book, about 233 pages, describing this life, his work, his loneliness, and his priesthood among the Eskimos in Alaska. He spends a few chapters on Alaska, itself, the Yukon River, the climate and especially travelling in the coldness of Winter. Much of the book, however, is devoted to his relations with the local people and the local priests. The writing is superb.

Throughout the book, there is a subliminal sense of humor, which surfaces, now and then, into print. Look at pages 64 and 65, where the town of Kotzebue wanted Fr. Llorente to treat them to a full-blown bull fight, since he was Spanish. The good father did so, pulled the bull by his tale, and then whacked the bull on his nose. Finally, the priest "...stood there with ... (his) ...cane raised to the sky - a symbol of victory". Fr. Llorente has written a very funny story of the convergence of two different cultures, the Spanish and the Eskimo, in the town common when a bull had been delivered. Later, the bull was butchered to serve as a source of protein for the coming long winter.

Besides all the material aspects of life, the good priest-author deals with the spiritual, showing signs of Spanish mysticism. Recall that both St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross were Spanish. When Fr. Llorente writes about Christ in the Holy Eucharist, with both of them alone in a cold church on the Yukon, his writing and description become very close to what I would consider mysticism. (See the first chapter of "Truth And Tolerance" by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, Ignatius Press, 2003).

But Fr. Llorente was also man of the world, and was popular enough amongst his flock for them to elect him to the State Legislature. It would seem that he was the first Roman Catholic priest to be elected to a legislature in these United States. His service as a legislator brought him into a sort of conflict with his bishop, the Rev. O'Flanagan, who was concerned with separation of church and state; this brief episode is described at the very end of the book. This book is a wonderful record of the excellent efforts of one man, Fr. Segundo Llorente, S.J., 1906-1989.

Disclosure: I received this book as result of a very small donation to the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska.

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