*Spiritual renewal, this is what author Denise L. Buchanan is left with, as she takes the reader through the true story of her harrowing ordeal as a teen who was molested by a Catholic priest in her new book, “Sins of the Fathers.”
Buchanan, now a successful entrepreneur who holds degrees in Landscape Architecture and Spiritual Psychology, appears to have come full circle since “Brother Paul,” the young pastor who had initially befriended her sister as a mentor; gained the trust of her family, and for years, went on to take advantage of that trust, which resulted in two pregnancies and subsequent abortions for Denise.
In moving forward, Denise has chosen to create beauty in her life and the lives of others through Sacred Gardens, a healing garden design company she started in 2004 and Live The Love, Inc., where she helps others transform the issues and crisis they face.
In this, her debut book, Sins of the Father: A true story of rape and deception in the Catholic Church…and spiritual renewal, Buchanan takes us through her humble beginnings in Kingston, Jamaica; where she lived with an overbearing father who worked as a school principal; a mother who labored selflessly as a nurse; and her older sister, who would become devout in her journey into Catholicism.
With interludes of original poetry, iconic quotes and scripture woven throughout, Buchanan shows herself as a good storyteller; which makes the book a quick and easy read. But don’t confuse this with one that does not go deep.
In “Sins,” Buchanan does more than tell a story, she educates the reader along the way. In her preface, which I feel was w-a-y too long (it offers background on the history of the church, its ideology, info about other abusive priests and the Cardinal who sought to protect them and finally, Buchanan’s own psychoanalysis on why she had to win over her abuser), she shows how the teachings espoused by the Catholic Church are often eclipsed, and can sometimes choke on itself. For example, in one instance she writes:
“The justification of the worship of Jesus comes from the church teaching that Jesus is one person having two natures; the human and the divine. In Him they are united.”
She then goes on to point out,
“However the church fails to mention that in each of us these two natures also exist. It is the separation of these natures that creates the confusion in our minds and derails us from our spiritual journey. By perpetuating the belief that we are sinners and misaligned from God maintains the disconnection with our inherent natures and causes dependence on church theology and structure…The most critical mistakes we can make which hinder our spiritual growth and awareness, include being attached to the form of things rather than the formless or spirit behind all things.”
Buchanan’s story of abuse from a trusted member of the clergy is, unfortunately, not a rare one. Over the years many children, now deeply-scarred adults, have come out with claims of abuse by priests in the Catholic church. There are also many reports and articles on how the church has protected the abusers.
But what is rare about Denise’s story are the steps that she took to heal from the abuse. The power that she summoned up the nerve to take back following her years of rejection, guilt, self-abuse and anger. The desire she now fulfills in continuing to educate herself (she is a dual PhD candidate in Psycho neurology and Consciousness) in an effort to understand the subtle workings of the mind; and the compassion she feels for others’ still held hostage in the mindset of misery – through which Denise gives their voice a home on her blog, Sinsofthefathers.org
DeBorah B. Pryor is a Los Angeles-based writer and UCLA Extension adjunct communications instructor. She developed the workshop Public Speaking for the Private Person, for professionals that aim to improve their employee-employer relation skills, speaking in front of groups, developing better presentations, constructing good arguments and more. The class is now available on CD via her website, The Art of Communication, Public Speaking for the Private Person. As an independent associate with LegalShield, DeBorah also puts people in touch with quality law firms.