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Book shares family’s ‘upward journey to God’


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SAN DIEGO — Many people mistakenly see aging and dying as “a downward spiral.”

But when viewed through the lens of faith, this process can be seen far differently, said Noreen McInnes, director of the diocese’s Office for Liturgy and Spirituality.

“It’s instead an upward journey home to God. We are comforted … when we invite God into our suffering through the sacraments, liturgy and prayer.”

She has written a book that explores this journey, “Keep at It, Riley!,” which will be published by New City Press on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

She says that hers is not “a dry book on liturgy.”

Instead, “you’ll laugh and you’ll cry your way through this true-life story.”

The book is subtitled “Accompanying my Father through Death into Life.”

McInnes holds a master’s degree in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a Doctor of Ministry from The Catholic University of America. She has served in the diocese’s Liturgy Office for 10 years and has been its director since 2014.

She describes her book as the “story of how Catholic faith accompanied my family through the sickness and death of my elderly parents.”

She uses her own experiences to reflect on the Catholic Church’s teachings about the dignity of life, the pastoral care of the sick, and the power of the sacraments.

Drawing from her family’s Irish heritage, McInnes also weaves in stories about the challenges previous generations of her family faced in Ireland and as immigrants in Pennsylvania, along with prayers and accounts from the lives of Irish saints like St. Patrick and St. Brigid.

The book’s title comes from McInnes’ unofficial family motto, a motivational phrase used by her father and grandfather to encourage perseverance in the midst of trials. It was an attitude that she saw her father live out during his final months.

Bishop Robert McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan are among the Church leaders who have written endorsements for the book.

Bishop McElroy wrote that McInnes’ “mastery of the Church’s liturgical theology is constantly embedded within the profoundly human realities that form the sacramental nature of our life on this earth.”

Bishop Dolan compared the book to “an Irish sweater woven with sacraments, Irish spirituality, and family stories.”

“McInnes’s life experiences shed light on the value of Catholic ritual in real time,” wrote Bishop Dolan. “A great read!”


The book may be ordered here.

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