Friday, January 13, 2012

Raised by the Church: Growing Up in New York City’s Catholic Orphanages / Edward Rohs

A frank and informative look at one man’s experience growing up in parochial orphanages in and around New York during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Edward Rohs doesn’t remember his parents. They gave him up when before he could form any familiar recollection of them. Instead, his childhood was spent under the care of both the Sisters of Mercy and the Marianist Brothers, moving from one institution to the next as he aged out of each one. Along with fellow author Judith Estrine, Rohs gives a brief overview of the history of orphans in and around New York City before recounting his own experiences as one. He also provides backgrounds on the religious orders that helped raise him, including the rather fascinating tale of how the Sisters of Mercy came to New York from Ireland and ended up in Brooklyn. Rohs’ story is both thoughtful and shocking as he recounts everything from a stressful incident of racism at an institutional football game to his molestation by a religious man from a visiting order. His matter-of-fact style and glass half-is-full approach to writing makes it hard for readers not to empathize with his situation. The titles does falter, however, as he begins to list all his jobs accomplishments as an adult. This doesn’t seem to keep in line with his earlier purpose; recounting his experiences both prior to and post his institutional life.

An interesting and thought-provoking book that is sure to to grab the attention of anyone interested in orphans and early New York City life.

Raised by the Church by Edward Rohs with Judith Estrine. ISBN: 978-0823240227

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