BRISTOL - The way Lawrence Duffany describes it, his first published book, “Chalk It Up to Mystery: Reflections on the Rosary for the Catholic School Educator,” came about almost by accident.
Duffany is a lay member of the Carmelites Catholic religious order. He is head of the Religion Department at St. Paul Catholic High School and teaches Junior Religion there.
About five years ago, when the church was celebrating the Year of Faith, he was contemplating the Apostles’ Creed, a statement of Christian belief, and what it had to say to him as a Catholic school teacher, he recalled.
From there, he gradually settled on the Mysteries of the Rosary as a focus for talking about issues in Catholic education.
The Rosary is a series of prayers used in the Catholic Church, named for the string of beads used to count off the prayers as they are said. The Mysteries are meditations on episodes in the birth, life, and death of Jesus that accompany the sets of prayers.
It’s “a call to all who work as a teacher or administrator in a Catholic school to take time to reflect on the Gospel mysteries in order to find rejuvenation,” as the book’s promotional release explains.
“He calls educators to reflection and spiritual enlivenment with a declaration of the importance of the Rosary and of a daily commitment to prayer. Duffany promotes the value and benefits of the gentle, repetitive rhythm of the prayers comparing them with the loving, gentle rocking of a mother and child,” the release continues.
Duffany said each section begins with a Gospel passage that relates to a particular Mystery, with a brief reflection, followed by questions asking the reader to evaluate his or her own application of the teachings for their professional, personal, and ministerial growth.
“For example, the first Mystery is the Annunciation, when Gabriel talks to Mary and tells her she is going to be expecting,” he said. “And then it discusses what was that like for her and what does the Annunciation say to me? How was I invited to do something for God?”
“Then there is some journaling space, so that the person reading it can use it as a prayer journal, almost like a retreat in a book,” he said. “At St. Paul I used it as part of the faculty retreat at the beginning of the year, so it can be used in a whole bunch of different ways.”
Published by New York City-based Page Publishing, the book came out last June but word about it is just starting to get out, he said.
Duffany is in his fourth year at St. Paul and his 22nd year in Catholic education. He also teaches part time at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.
In addition, he facilitates online courses through the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton, a Catholic university in Ohio.
“That has been very, very enriching,” he said. “I’ve reached people all across the country and England, as far away as Australia, and several in what they call the Apostolic Vicariate of the Arabian States. It’s interesting to work with people who are persecuted Christians that still have the energy and the verve and desire to learn. Honestly I learn more from them than I can give them.”
Duffany lives with his wife, Janet, and their two children in Thomaston, where he is an emergency medical technician with Thomaston Volunteer Ambulance and teaches First Aid and CPR. He likes to joke that he helps save lives as well as souls.
Publishing his first book has been “an exciting process,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my next thing. I’m starting to learn how to do a blog, that will be called ‘Living the Overflowing Cup,’ and probably that will then spill into yet another book.
“What I’ve found is when you’re writing all of a sudden these other ideas come up and you want to do something with them. One of the things I’ve been toying with was, now that I’ve done this for teachers, what does the Rosary teach me about being a parent?”
In the meantime, he noted, people can find him on Facebook.
“Chalk It Up to Mystery: Reflections on the Rosary for the Catholic School Educator” is available at bookstores, or online at the Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes & Noble. For more information, contact Page Publishing at or .
Susan Corica can be reached at or .