The life of a model of Catholic Social Teaching
ANNE HOPE: The Struggle for Freedom, Stephanie Kilroe. Darton, Longman & Todd. 2019. 155pp.
Reviewed by Fr Larry Kaufmann CSsR
What a joy it is to learn more about the Catholic activist Anne Hope whose books Training for Transformation, co-authored with Sally Timmel, have been constant companions to me in giving retreats to groups, running workshops and even in the ethics training programmes I have led over several years.
Based on the interactive educational philosophy of the late Brazilian educator and philosopher Paolo Freire, Hope and Timmel’s four volumes are classics today.
What Stephanie Kilroe has done, in a refreshing writing style, has been to take us behind the scenes, introducing us to the person Anne Hope, who died at 85 on December 26, 2015.
A woman of courage, commitment to the poor and deep faith, Anne Hope is nevertheless as human as any of us. With profound sensitivity yet honesty, Kilroe explores Hope’s rich inner life, with its ambiguities and pains, its joys and achievements, thanks to access to Hope’s personal diaries and prayer journals.
I read this book in the midst of a series of family bereavements which called on my pastoral ministry. Being in the company of Hope through Kilroe’s narratives about her was pure encouragement and inspiration.
A lifelong member of The Grail, Anne Hope was born in South Africa, loved South Africa, and gave her all to its liberation from apartheid oppression.
Her final project was to set up the Training for Transformation Centre in Kleinmond near Hermanus, Western Cape, where Anne’s requiem was celebrated and where her ashes are buried. Yet Anne was a universal woman. With her expertise in adult literacy, leadership training and empowerment of the disadvantaged, she traversed every continent.
For Catholics, Hope shines as a model of someone who implemented Catholic Social Teaching; indeed, whose beautiful life was an incarnation of its prophetic mission in the world.
But Kilroe’s book is not only for Catholics. It should be read by all South Africans. We need hope (pun happily intended). We need to continue the legacy of Hope; to continue the training for transformation which she spearheaded through her and Sally Timmel’s eminently practical methodology.
Getting to know, through Kilroe’s fine writing, the extraordinary woman that Anne Hope was makes that task all the more stimulating.
• Anne Hope: The Struggle for Freedom is available online through Readers Warehouse and at the Catholic Bookshop, Cape Town, at R180. Available at other bookshops through Jacana Media at R225.