We enter a new year fraught with peril and suffering on many fronts: ongoing wars, the effects of climate change; the plight of migrants and refugees; racial injustice and threats to democracy. Many of our new titles this past year have spoken to such issues. (See Henri Nouwen, Ukraine Diary; Mitri Raheb, Decolonizing Palestine; Elizabeth Gandolfo, Ecomartyrdom in the Americas; Why We Can’t Wait: Racism and the Church; Leo Guardado, Church as Sanctuary; and Pope Francis’s warning on the climate crisis, Laudate Deum.
All of these titles reflect the longstanding, prophetic mission of Orbis Books: to read the signs of the times, to amplify voices from the margins, and to rise in defense of the common good. That mission also entails words of comfort, a message of hope, the sharing of spiritual wisdom that promotes renewal, reconciliation, and healing. Thus, titles like James Finley’s bestseller, The Healing Path: A Memoir and An Invitation; David Steindl-Rast’s You Are Here: Keywords for Life Explorers; Teilhard de Chardin: A Book of Hours; Pope Francis, Walking Together: The Way of Synodality; Arthur Jones’s Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals; Henri Nouwen’s Community; Greg Garrett’s The Gospel According to James Baldwin; and John Dear’s The Gospel of Peace.
Judging from the number of awards Orbis received this year, we seem to have struck a critical balance. These included the Christopher Award to Dawn Eden Goldstein’ for Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.’s Spiritual Sponsor; the Grawemeyer Award in Religion to Kelly Brown Douglas for Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter. The John Courtney Murray Award, the highest honor of the Catholic Theological Society of America, went to Roger Haight, SJ, author of nine Orbis titles. In addition we won 22 awards from the Catholic Media Association; 4 awards from the Catholic Publishers Association; 5 Nautilus Awards; 3 Illumination Awards; and 5 titles among the Top 50 Spirituality Books of the year from Spirituality & Practice.
Many of our readers may not be aware that we are the publishing arm of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, who established Orbis in 1970 to bring the voices from the margins to the ears of the world. In a letter commending us on our 50th anniversary, Pope Francis described our task as pointing toward a new horizon of meaning; of cultivating, especially among young people, an imagination to help them believe that another way of writing history is possible; of offering in our books a compass pointing the way, guiding readers to cultivate goals that embrace the common good: books that give flight to the spirit and help reach places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed; books that awaken the best talents to create new networks of solidarity.
As we enter a new year, we give thanks to Maryknoll for its steadfast support, to our authors, and to you, our readers. We join you in hoping that this year will show that another way of writing history is possible