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Undoing the Knots


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Table of Contents

Mattering: St. Vincent de Paul

Witnessing: St. James

Aligning: Christ's Church

Grafting: St. Agnes

Manufacturing: St. Charles Borromeo

Maneuvering: St. Stephen's

Defending: The Church of the Gesu

Homesteading: St. Francis of Assisi

Doubting: Catholic Higher Education



About the Author

Maureen H. O'Connell is associate professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Theology at LaSalle University. She authored Compassion- Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization and If These Walls Could Talk- Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice. She is a member of POWER (Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild), an interfaith coalition of more than 50 congregations committed to making Philadelphia the city of "just love" through faith-based community organizing.


"[The author's] willingness to examine her actions while coming to the realization that, while her intentions have always been good, they do not address the problem, is incredibly refreshing . . . Though the material may be uncomfortable to digest, it is an absolutely necessary read to foster antiracism."

"Maureen O'Connell's Undoing the Knots is essential reading for this country's conversation about whiteness and systemic racism from the angle of O'Connell's faith tradition, Catholicism. At once personal and historical, narrative and analytical, O'Connell's writing is vulnerable, searching, and open. Her desire to draw what is often a shameful history into the light is ultimately a hopeful project, and O'Connell is a worthy conversation partner on our journey to a more just union."
-Donna Freitas, author of Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention

"Undoing the Knots is a bold, brave, courageous prayer and plea for us to create 'a new earth.' O'Connell's incisive writing leads the reader into a soul excavation, one that peels back self-righteousness and makes you grapple with the destructive underlying scripts-from church doctrine to family conversations-that inform racism at its most personal level. This is a book that compels the reader to engage the conversation on race with head and heart, and to manifest that heart transformation through a commitment toward structural change within Catholic communities and the church itself."
-Rev. Natosha Reid Rice, founder of Fresh Rain for Life Ministries and Global Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer for Habitat for Humanity International

"In unearthing the church's troublesome history around racism through the lens of her own family, Maureen O'Connell invites us to join her on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual journey that will give us the tools we need to show up for racial justice in our communities, especially our faith communities. A superb book by a gifted writer, a talented theologian, and a thoughtful observer of our contemporary world."
-James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

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