Challenging the Vatican’s treatment of women within the church, In Our Lifetime is a novel involving three devout, but very different Catholics. Each character becomes discontent with the doctrines, politics and patriarchal hierarchy of the church.
Bishop John O’Malley attends a feminist mass for a dying nun (the love of his life) and is accused by the Vatican of sanctioning priesthood for women. Sister Maureen Connelly’s hard work on a report is softened and published under a priest’s name, making her more open to the opinions of the feminist nuns with whom she lives. Suburban housewife Linda Bonn finds joy in a new job that angers her ultra-conservative, controlling husband and makes her question everything she’s ever believed. They each turn to their consciences to decide what it truly means to follow God’s path, even if that path involves going against the Vatican.
Jeanne Pieper is a talented writer who transports readers effortlessly between scenes and skillfully connects the three story lines. She creatively conveys her characters’ physical traits (an activist priest smiles from the “tip of his Birkenstock sandals to the top of his balding gray head”) as well as their emotions (O’Malley feels ”as helpless as a falling leaf in a hurricane” upon learning that the woman he loves is dying).
Pieper guides readers through the church’s restrictive rules for women, written and unwritten, such as not being “allowed to read the Gospel … at a Mass” or not being able to use “modern” forms of birth control, and offers a case against the Vatican’s standards.
In the story, Bishop O’Malley says, “It had been almost twenty years since the pope forbade the faithful to even discuss the possibility of female priests.” In Our Lifetime allows readers to ponder that thought — and more. This is a captivating story that entertains while conveying an important message: that women are capable of participating in the church in the same ways as men.
Also available as an ebook.