MARY OF AGREDA


 

ABOUT THE AGREDA STORY

Beulah Karney, the author of this study, was my mother. Like Agreda she was an extraordinary woman who was ahead of her time. She was born in Oakland, graduated from Occidental College and did post graduate studies at the University of Mexico, before and after which she taught Spanish and Dramatics preparatory to her thirty-year career as a radio and television writer and broadcaster for KMBC, Kansas City, and ABC, Chicago. Returning to California, she taught Creative Writing at Monterey Peninsula College, following which she moved to the California Mother Lode where she lived and continued to write for the remainder of her ninety-two years.

The John Day Company published three of her previous books: Wild Imp, a Junior Literary Guild selection; Keepers of the Bell, which was on the New York Times 100 Best list for Older Boys; and The Listening One, cited by the Child Study Association for its sympathetic treatment of Native Americans. A fourth book, Old Father's Long Journey, was published by CLC Press in 1985 and in a 2001 edition has been revised and published by Literary Associates Press for readers fourth grade and older as a supplemental enrichment to the California school systems' Mission Studies program.

Beulah got onto the trail of Mary Agreda as the result of research she was doing on the life of Junipero Serra, founder of the California Missions. She happened one day upon a reference that credited the writings of Mary of Agreda as the influence that had led Serra to California. For the next seven years Beulah followed this Ariadne thread, making two trips to Spain where she consulted and translated original documents there. Having taught high school Spanish and having studied at the University of Mexico, language was not a deterrent to her determination to understand how Agreda accomplished all she was credited with doing.

Believing that someday the manuscript would be published, she placed what she referred to as "the Agreda Story" into my keeping, confident that I would know what to do with it when the time was right. I put it on a back burner where it remained until my daughter Anna was inspired to type it into her computer, thereby re-lighting the fire under the Agreda story.

Through my close connection with the manuscript I shared my mother's sense that there was more to the Agreda story than her research, as far as it had gone, had revealed. It was her belief that someday there would be greater understanding and acceptance of the phenomena religion was satisfied to call miracles, and let it go at that. She felt that this understanding would come from areas of scientific inquiry together with those of parapsychology. In this sense Beulah anticipated Agreda as a story that perhaps would have to wait for a change in the collective mindset as to the nature of reality. Sharing this view and sensing her encouragement, I have taken considerable liberty in editing and updating the manuscript to reflect what, in the intervening years, has come to light and to reassess Agredaís relevance from an emerging post-modern perspective. In this way I have become something of a ghost writer (forgive the pun) in my collaboration with the manuscript.

    Finally, I have two personal attachments to the story: First, from its conception I helped with the project by transcribing much of the research, including tape recordings made in archives in Spain and Rome. Later I typed and retyped the manuscript through its numerous revisions. My second attachment is to Mary Agreda herself. Shortly after my motherís death in 1992 I entered the formation process to become a Franciscan. This led to my profession in 1997 in the Anglican branch of the secular Franciscans (TSSF), and which makes me, at least in my own mind, spiritually akin to Sister Mary. And when I have felt burdened by the responsibility and complexity of preparing the manuscript for publication, I have sensed her encouragement as well and picked up where I had been tempted to leave off.

Ann Elliott, TSSF
October 4, 2001

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