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Let Me Be a Light: The Faith Journey of Father Ron Lawson
both by Richard L. Rotelli
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Let Me Be a Light: The Faith Journey of Father Ron Lawson

Review from (Barnes and Noble):

Reviewer: Wayne Harris, 10/25/2010

Highly Recommended!

Richard Rotelli has chosen a great subject for this excellent book. Ron Lawson's life lights up the pages. Here is a man of great accomplishments. His many friendships, to include the von Trapp family and many others, are inspirational and fun reading. As a 55-year-old Army chaplain priest in Operation Desert Storm, we get insights into this great American. I know I shall read this one several times. When he tells about Germany, it is like being there with him. Great job Richard and Ron.

Review from (Infinity Publisher):

Reviewer: Frank Porter, 10/18/2010

Truly a light to be enjoyed!

Father Ron Lawson is truly a light to be enjoyed. His light reflects the passion of a life lived for God through the witness to others. God favored him with the guidance he asked for in doing His will. This is a wonderfully written account of a wonderful, faithful priest, Maryís priest. An excellent read for all, not just for those seeking answers, in the midst of their own lifeís vocation. Father Ron asked, sought and found exactly what he was looking for. Truly blessed, may God so bless the rest of us.

Review from (Infinity Publisher):

Reviewer: Gale & Fred Whittemore, 09/19/2010

Terrific Book!

In each of our lives, we can count on one hand the folks who have, by merely being themselves, given us direction, support and friendship. Often they don't even know it. Ron is an "good ole" friend from school days; was a leader then, and although we thought we knew him, it is this book that has rounded out the wonderful personality with all the parts of his life that he couldn't always share. We loved him then, and love him even more now. ........and he is not through!!!!!!!! God speed, Ron, from Fred and Gale

Review from (Infinity Publisher):

Reviewer: MJ, 08/29/2010

Great Read!

On a scale of 1 to 10 this book was an 11! The author is correct, it does read more like fiction than fact. But..... What a wonderfully entertaining book about a man who is a patriot, a good citizen, a wonderful friend to so many and a believer in our Lord while having a bit of a rascal in him. God Bless!

Review from

Wilma Hanson, 10/04/2010

"Let Me Be a Light" The Faith Journey of Father Ron Lawson is a fascinating biography of an extraordinary man. A linguist with a winning personality; A convert to Catholicism, ordained as a priest after a long searching journey; A witness to history in the making. Author, Richard L. Rotelli presents a detailed account of Father Ron Lawson's life and the many lives he has touched in the United States, Montreal, Canada and throughout Europe. The conversational style of his writing makes for an interesting read. I found the ecumenical spirit of Father Ron's life and his dedication to military personnel, as a priest with the armed forces, to be truly remarkable and thought provoking.

Today Father Ronald Lawson is Senior Priest in residence at St Mary Parish in Chelmsford, MA. The author, Richard L. Rotelli, knows Father Ron for the man he is, and he has given us a true gift in "Let Me Be a Light" The Faith Journey of Father Ron Lawson.

Review from

corvidmind, 11/09/2010

In "Let Me Be a Light" author Richard Rotelli relates the life story of Father Ron Lawson, currently enjoying retirement as the Senior Priest in Residence at St. Mary's in Chelmsford, Mass. The story of "Father Ron" is both singular and emblematic, in the sense that he embodies the kind of remarkable life stories one so often discovers in the people who work and live in our everyday lives.

Working closely with his subject, Mr. Rotelli covers the whole of Fr. Ron Lawson's life: his Vermont Yankee family; his education at Middlebury College; his life in Army counter-intelligence in Germany, at the height of the Cold War; Christmases in Austria, and the first profound stirrings that would confirm him on the path to the priesthood; his seminary years in Boston; his gaining "Mother" Maria von Trapp as spiritual mentor, with Bavaria as a font for his faith; his ordination in 1970; Middlebury again for a short time, and then his years as a high-school chaplain in Montreal. Many ski trips later, the story turns, improbably, back to the Army in 1984, to Fr. Lawson's experiences as a chaplain in Germany and Desert Storm, and finally to his work with the Veteran's Administration.

Mr. Rotelli's account is close, sympathetic and fleshed out with a good deal of detail concerning period and place. Though essentially a linear, soup-to-nuts account of Fr. Lawson's life, it is nicely anecdotal, in the way that autobiographies and reminiscences can be. More to the point, Fr. Lawson led the kind of well-traveled and eventful life that would interest any reader, in what might otherwise be considered prosaic ground for an entire book.

Unsurprisingly (and perhaps to my discredit), I didn't know much about a priest's life; that may be a reflection of the times, and of the societal role of the clergy today. I do think that the spiritual journey is inherently interesting; I would guess that the story of the Catholic priest, though common, is undertold. The central theme here, as the book's subtitle states, is such a spiritual journey: how a young Yank in Germany came to the decision to become a Catholic priest. To that end the book limns the signal events of Fr. Lawson's life of faith: his awakening; religious education; pastoral work; pilgrimages; the crises, mysteries and most importantly, I think, those personal and powerful experiences of faith and direct communion with God. To me, that's the fundamental mystery of what a priest is, and one that I'm not sure can be answered, though this book proves can be shared in some sense.

But thankfully, more than that core spiritual narrative, we get the details of a rich life, the life of an interesting person in interesting places. Mr. Rotelli gives us the cake, and all the icing, too: Washington in the '50s; sailing in the Baltic Sea; yodeling instruction in the Tyrolian Alps; swimming lessons to generations of kids; Berlin during the Cold War; Elke Sommer(!); picnics and singing with the von Trapp family; wartime helicopter rides in the Persian Gulf; opening Mass at the 1976 Olympics; pilgramages to Lourdes...

If, on the face of it, this all sounds like "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium", it's no surprise. In this case, the metaphor is a reflection of the man. In 'Let Me Be A Light' we get a real sense of Fr. Ron's personality, of how he is a true "people person". As the author repeatedly observes, Ron Larson was born with the gift of friendship. He seems to have been blessed with the quality of being a boon companion, with that generosity of spirit we find so pleasing and rare in others, and that is so invaluable a quality in the clergy.

Such a person touches many lives, and indeed, a main impression one takes away from Fr. Lawson's story is of how much he treasured people, his friends, and those to whom he brought his ministry. In his life of witness, to his faith and his God, Father Lawson was plainly a light, I think. Someone was once explaining about St. Paul and noted that there are two kinds of priests: the one for whom the parish is their world, and the other for whom the world is their parish. In Father Ron Lawson, we have the kind that combines both.

Other Reviews:

A reviewer, July 2010

Your book is not only very good and very interesting, but it is also very powerful.  I hope a review is being published in the national Catholic Press.

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