By Jerry Duggan
During his time as a student at Regis High School and Regis University in the Denver area, Fr. Dan Daly, SJ, was struck by how Jesuits worked seamlessly with lay colleagues to advance the Society’s mission and appreciated how they strived to connect others to Christ.
He has followed that example in his own Jesuit vocation, teaching accounting at Jesuit universities, helping with student Masses and retreats, and currently serving as treasurer for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province. In another attempt to connect with lay men and women of faith, he wrote a book entitled Jesus and the Barbecued Fish Breakfast.
Father Daly says this book has been a long time coming. The idea was first put in his head by a colleague during his time in Denver.
“After Mass one Sunday, a fellow faculty member walked up to me and asked me if I had ever thought of putting my homilies together into a book,” he explained. “The idea was totally new to me. I had never written a book before, or even thought about it.”
After a lot of thought, Fr. Daly decided to give it a shot.
“I quickly realized that I could not simply retell my homilies, but that the book needed to include a narrative to be more engaging and relatable to readers,” he said.
With a lifelong affinity for Gospel stories, Fr. Daly thought they made for a great vehicle around which to base his book. He chose 21 Gospel stories, including a personal favorite of his, which he chose for the book’s title – John Chapter 21, in which Jesus appears to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias and barbecues fish they have caught.
“Gospel stories are great for a few reasons – first, they help us get to know Jesus better, from his birth all the way to his death and resurrection,” he said. “Additionally, they are relatable to our everyday lives.”
Thus, Fr. Daly had arrived at a goal of his book: to help the faithful realize the myriad ways in which the Gospel stories are connected to their own lives.
It’s been 12 years since Fr. Daly’s initial encounter with the colleague who suggested he write a book. Since then, he has tweaked the book’s contents many times and submitted it to several publishers before one agreed to publish it. At times, the process has been tedious, but Fr. Daly has found it rewarding.
“Each time I tweak the book I notice something new about these stories – a new way of looking at them or a detail I had not noticed before,” he said.
He collaborated with an illustrator to bring the stories to life and enrich the text. While many books written by Jesuits are scholarly in nature, Fr. Daly’s text is intended for the “ordinary” Catholic..
“No expertise in Scripture is necessary for my book,” he said. “I wanted to make it understandable for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Gospel stories and relating them to their own life.”
Ultimately, Fr. Daly sees this as another application of what he considers the highlight of his Jesuit vocation: the continued opportunity to connect with other men and women of faith.
“A highlight of my vocation has been the ability to work with others in all of my assignments and connect them to Christ,” he reflected. “This book presents another opportunity to do that.”
In this way, what first attracted Fr. Daly to the Society of Jesus is what he most enjoys, and is still doing, to this day.
Jesus and the Barbecued Fish Breakfast can be purchased here.