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Dominican sister turns late-life literary calling into book

07 4.27.17_sister.gloriaPAGE In the garden of St. Dominic Convent in San Francisco, retired Dominican Sister Gloria Montanez reads aloud a chapter from a children’s book she published this year. (Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)

April 27, 2017
Christina Gray

Her writing experience was limited to a lifetime of scribbles on classroom blackboards as a Catholic elementary school teacher. But that didn’t stop retired San Rafael Dominican Sister Gloria Montanez from authoring her first book this year at the age of 79.

“Addie’s One Wish to the Brightest Star” is a 100-page paperback children’s book published by Vegas Pulse Publishing and available on Amazon.com. Under a pen name inspired during Easter Mass last year, “Gloria St. Joy” tells the story of 8-year-old Addie, the only child in a loving family who has everything a little girl could ask for except a baby brother or sister. This becomes her only wish.

In an interview April 19 with Catholic San Francisco at the convent across the street from St. Dominic Parish where she taught school until 2006, Sister Gloria said that though her book is not distinctly a Catholic or religious book, the message of the story is.

“I see Addie’s wish as a child’s prayer,” she said. She has faith that the ‘bright star’ upon which she wishes will hear her. She learns the virtues of faith, hope and charity and relies on them during struggles with her schoolmate antagonist, “Oliver.” Respect for life, family and forgiveness are the heart of the story.

After nearly 50 years as a teacher, Sister Gloria said she was “guided by the Holy Spirit to do something I have never done or ever dreamt of doing.” In semi-retirement, she tutored children in reading and experienced a sudden “burning desire” to write poetry for each of her students – something she said she had never shown any interest in before.

She began studying poetry and poets, taking numerous workshops for writers and keeping a detailed journal which she shared with family and friends. Her adult nephew Andrew, an author, urged her to consider writing a children’s book. Her niece, Dori, agreed to illustrate it. Like her aunt, she didn’t let her lack of artistic experience stop her.

“I am hopeful that my story will inspire retirees to find a new direction for their lives or inspire anyone to pursue something that for various reasons they have hesitated to before,” said Sister Gloria.

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