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Barb Szyszkiewicz shares 5 of her favorite chapters of a new book by a newly-elected bishop.

The publication of an author's first book is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Being named a bishop of the Catholic Church is also a once-in-a-lifetime event. Both of these happened to Fr. Bill Byrne in the same week. On Tuesday, October 13, Loyola Press published 5 Things with Father Bill. On Wednesday, October 14, this DC-area parish priest and Catholic YouTuber officially became Bishop-elect Byrne; he will shepherd the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. That's one epic week.

5 Things with Father Bill-1

As with his YouTube videos, Bishop-elect Byrne's book draws from his church newspaper columns. He notes,

My short pieces followed a steady formula. I would share a short story about life and then offer five ways, suggestions, tips, or reflections on how to grow spiritually (xv).

The formula works, and the content of the book makes good on the promises of the subtitle. 5 Things with Father Bill: Hope, Humor, and Help for the Soul feels like a light read, but it touches on essential topics and gives the reader plenty of food for thought. This simple book is a powerful evangelization tool.

Here are five of my favorite chapters:

  • Perspectives on Mass Etiquette. This one is surprising - not what you'd expect. It's not a reminder about the Eucharistic fast or kneeler noise, but the thoughts of some of the people we encounter during Mass about how we behave in church. It's a must-read.
  • Learn to Love Confession
  • Be Glad for Purgatory
  • Spiritual Exercises
  • Ways to be a Genius. This chapter comes complete with equations that even math-challenged me can handle.

5 Things with Father Bill is the kind of book you can leave on a table so you (or your family members) can pick it up and dig into any chapter that catches your eye at the moment. It's optimistic, funny, and true to life -- and packed with wisdom.

As I read, I did wish that that the publisher had organized the chapters to correspond with the liturgical year. Not every topic had such a connection, but those that did were not in order. Topics in one six-chapter run jumped from the Rosary (October) to saints (November) to the Sacred Heart (June) to Guardian Angels (back to October) to the Immaculate Conception (December) to Purgatory (November). But this is the type of book you can pick up anywhere to read a chapter or two; it's not necessary that you read in order.

This simple book is a powerful evangelization tool: #5ThingsWithFrBill by Bishop-elect Bill Byrne #catholicmom

Bishop-elect Byrne will be ordained and installed as the 10th Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, on Monday, December 14. The event will be livestreamed on CatholicTV.org, beginning at 2 PM Eastern.

Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz
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