What does it all mean? is the latest book from Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard, and he was in Ireland on Monday 12 June for a flying visit to talk about it. In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications he explains how, like most of his previous books, it came about on foot of a question posed to him by someone trying to grapple with their faith. In this instance the question came from a mother whose one year old child he’d just buried.
He talks also about the correspondence he’s received over the years from people who’ve engaged with his previous books, Where the Hell is God?, Why Bother Praying?, and What Are We Doing on Earth for Christ’s Sake? His latest book, he remarks, is a compilation of these last three books but with new material garnered from the letters and reflections he’s received over the years.
This is the first time Richard has been to Ireland since his sister Tracey’s death in March. Her tragic accident, which left her a quadriplegic at the age of 28, was the inspiration for his book Where the Hell is God? The best-seller has touched thousands of people all over the world. In it Richard grapples with how our understanding of God can change for the better when we strip away the inadequate myths and platitudes that are often offered to us in the face of unbearable suffering.
He talks about Tracey and the impact her life as an invalid has made on others. He suggests that she has done even more to help people since her accident than she did in her work as a nurse with the dying in Calcutta and with the displaced aboriginal peoples of Australia.
Richard was busy on his one day trip to Dublin. He was on the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme (75 mins in) on Monday, did an interview for KLFM radio with Brenda Drumm, and another with Soulwaves Radio for syndication throughout local radio stations in Ireland. He was also videoed for the iCatholic website. You can watch a short film of him here.