WASHINGTON (August 6, 2003) -- Dioceses around the country have ordered more than 10,000 copies of John Paul II: A Light for the World well before the book hits bookstores across the United Sates.
The 256-page coffee table/resource book is being published by Sheed & Ward and edited by Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Deputy Director for Media of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"This kind of pre-order is rare in religious publishing," said Jeremy Langford, Editorial Director of Sheed & Ward, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. "Pre-orders from bookstores also have been very strong. The fact that this is the definitive book in the United States commemorating John Paul II's papacy has helped sales tremendously. People also are impressed with the extraordinary design quality, exquisite photo reproduction, accessible essays, and comprehensive resources section. This is a remarkable book befitting the extraordinary life, ministry, and papacy of John Paul II."
"This is the top book this year not only for Sheed & Ward, but for our parent company, Rowman & Littlefield, which produces 330 titles annually," Langford said.
The pre-orders by diocesan officials include purchases by bishops and diocesan staff to use as gifts for constituencies, by diocesan development directors for major donor gifts and fundraisers, and by diocesan newspapers for use in sales promotions.
A Light for the World commemorates the 25th anniversary of the papacy of John Paul II and features more than 40 brief essays on aspects of his pontificate. The essays are illustrated by extraordinary pictures by the Vatican photographers who have been with John Paul II since the start of his pontificate.
The foreword to the book was written by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the introduction by Bishop Wilton Gregory, President, of the USCCB; and a greeting by Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano of the Holy See. Other content includes a biographical essay on the pope by John Thavis, Rome Bureau Chief of Catholic News Service, who has covered the pope for CNS for the past 20 years, summaries of the pope's key writings and a glossary of church terms.
The book also includes almost thirty very brief remembrances of the pope by several persons who have met him personally, including all the active cardinals in the United States and two American prelates in Rome—Cardinal Edmund Szoka, President of the Pontifical Council for Vatican City State and Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The remembrances are both touching and humorous. Cardinal Mahony, for example, recounts finding the pope, who was his house guest, ladling out soup for himself in the kitchen during the 1987 visit to Los Angeles. Archbishop Foley recalls his panic when he had to provide color commentary for the media during a visit to the Philippines and the pope began to ad lib in several different languages.
The pictures in the book provide a visual documentary of John Paul from his days as the athletic, skiing pope to the current time when he walks aided by a cane. The book also includes photos from each of his visits as pope to the United States—with photos from New York to San Francisco to Fairbanks, Alaska, and with every United States President since President Jimmy Carter.
The book will be in bookstores in mid-September. Orders can also be placed by calling 1-800-462-6420 or by visiting www.rowmanlittlefield.com.