Father Martin Dunne III is not a writer. The parochial vicar at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton said it himself, “Besides the regular homily and occasional church bulletin reflection, I’ve never written anything for publication before.”
Yet, Father Dunne awaits in anticipation the publication of five books—four children’s books and one for adults—penned during these ongoing months of quarantine.
“It was a series of miracles, really, that led to the creation and publication of these books. I would definitely say this is my ‘something good’ come out of quarantine,” he said.
Father Dunne has mulled over the idea of writing faith-based books for some time now. He shared that the impetus for these literary works stemmed from the realization that “everyone has a thirst for God, to know him and love him.” Father Dunne said that in a moment of prayer, a title popped into his mind and he couldn’t shake the idea until he wrote it down.
The title? “What Could a Priest Know About Marriage?”
“This book is a culmination of my life’s journey,” said Father Dunne. “Priests do have a great deal to offer on the topic of marriage, even though we have taken a vow of celibacy. Marriage comes in many forms, but it is always meant to draw us closer to God by serving the other.”
This book draws on Father Dunne’s experiences before, during and after seminary and is meant to be a guide for those seeking that one affirming relationship in marriage. It addresses finding freedom and peace in accepting oneself first as an individual and then examining the individual in the context of marriage. This book incorporates insights and lessons Father Dunne has introduced into his ministry of counseling individuals seeking and in relationships.
Father Dunne’s subsequent book, “Marriage is God’s Special Gift,” is an illustrated children’s book that focuses on much the same topic as his guide geared towards adults. While it may seem like a big jump going from adult to young readers, the topic is suited for both audiences considering the understanding of relationships and marriage begins at home in the family.
“I reflected on my own childhood and what books or resources I wish I had had, which led me to research what might be out there for children today. What I found is that there are children’s books on divorce, children’s books on why a child might have two mommies or two daddies, but there is close to nothing about traditional marriage.”
This inspired Father Dunne to write three more children’s books on marriage, life lessons and how God’s presence is real in every stage of life. Two of the books are resented largely through the recollections of a centenarian parrot named Popcorn who relates the seven vices and their contrasting seven virtues, the seven gifts and twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit and more through real life situations.
“Although these books have deep topics, they present them in a gentle way that meets children at their level without being too simple or fluff stories. I didn’t want to just write fun children’s books, I wanted to write fun children’s books with Catholic messages,” he said.
What confirmed for Father Dunne that these books were meant to be, was the publication process itself. Father Dunne’s books will be published by Waldorf Publishing, a Texas-based company that operates under a mission of strong values and the spreading of positivity.
“I reached out to a wide list of publishers who I felt reflected a strong integrity and lived by a company mission that was in accordance with the Catholic faith,” Father Dunne said. “Waldorf recognized my desire to spread a positive message through my books and they recognize that there is a need for faith-filled, formative books.”
The partnership was so fruitful, said Father Dunne, that the projected 14-month process was quickly whittled down to 14 weeks. The publisher even approached Father Dunne about illustrating the book covers himself and, despite not being an artist either, the priest took to the sketching out a cover in no time. The preliminary sketch was fleshed out by Waldorf Publishing’s team of illustrators who worked with Father Dunne down to the last detail.
Another “miracle,” which Father Dunne attributes to God’s timing, is that he contacted Waldorf Publishing just in time for his books to be included in the 2021 publication schedule.
“I think I happened to casually reach out to Waldorf like two days before deadline. They immediate jumped on board and it’s been a great ride since. I cannot believe the whole concept of these books will go from my mind to the shelves in just a few weeks,” he said.
For Father Dunne, the cherry on top is that his books have been picked up by major retailers such as Target and Walmart, which has set a pre-sale record for Waldorf Publishing.
“It’s not about how many books I sell,” said Father Dunne, “but it does make me happy to know that these books will be accessible in mainstream stores for any child to pick up and read.”
Father Dunne also finds great joy in knowing that young readers will be encouraged to read the Bible through his five books.
“Everything in my books is supported by scripture and references the text. This is so that everything will be in relation to God—it is all by his design,” he remarked.
To learn more about Father Martin Dunne III’s books, visit fathermartinbooks.com for a synopsis of each title and publication dates and details. Read more about St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton by visiting stjoan.org, calling 561-392-0007 or by following the parish on Facebook @SaintJoanofArcCatholicChurch.