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Oakland composer debuts oratorio
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Several East Bay parishes plan anniversary events

Year of Mercy Calendar

Records broken
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and Field event

Tight play in basketball playoffs

Native American Catholics gather

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Applications for
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Sister Eileen Marie Ahern, OP


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A Holy Land
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Catholic Book Store Month

Author brings Rosemary Kennedy out of the shadows

Father Joyce's book draws in homilies, experiences

Bishop's memoir answer to diocese, Council history


Jubilarians

Salute to our
veteran priests


Vocations

A different approach
on giving birth
to new vocations

Priests navigate
armed forces
as chaplains

Quo Vadis will help men recognize God

Cloistered
communities count
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they pray for more vocations

New ordinations
give reason for hope,
but need for priests
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placeholder July 11, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic Book Store Month

Author brings Rosemary Kennedy out of the shadows

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

The subtitle is telling: "Rosemary Kennedy and the secret bonds of four women."

Author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff is the fourth, and sole surviving, of the four women whose stories are interwoven in "The Missing Kennedy."

The title character is Rosemary, the eldest daughter of the Kennedy family, whose behavioral issues in 1941 were treated — horribly — with a prefrontal lobotomy. The second of the women is Stella Koehler, the author's aunt, who as Sister Paulus, became Rosemary Kennedy's primary caregiver at the Wisconsin school where she lived in seclusion. At her father's insistence, she spent 20 years apart from her mother and siblings. The third is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who not only drew her elder sister back into the life of the family but founded the Special Olympics.

Koehler-Pentacoff, a Wisconsin native who has spent the last 30 years in California, writes from personal experience. She was 4, to "Rosie's" 40, when they met. The author's father was the youngest sibling of Sister Paulus, and visits between the Koehler family and Sister Paulus and Kennedy were frequent, as Koehler-Pentacoff recalls in the book, which is part memoir, part history.

 
"The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women"
By Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
Bancroft Press, 2015
236 pages, $17.67
 
The closeness of the relationship is told in the book's dozens of photographs — many of them snapshots.

To write the book, Koehler-Pentacoff drew not only on her personal experiences and her aunt's letters, but interviewed Anthony Shriver and Maria Shriver, and did research at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

"It was a lot more emotional than I thought it would be," Koehler-Pentacoff said. "What an amazing journey it was for me — and healing."

It was healing in that some of the Koehler family secrets, long buried, came to light.

"I had to become Rosie," she said. "I had to live through her tragedies and her happiness. It was gut-wrenching."

"I was very blessed to have an absolutely wonderful aunt who was so generous with everyone," said Koehler-Pentacoff, who lives in the East Bay. "She was just an inspiration. Rosie was an inspiration."

The book also shines a spotlight on the good that came from the relationship between the two.

"Sister Paulus was an ordinary, everyday farm girl who grew up to make such a difference in people's lives," she said.

The author provides some insight into Joseph P. Kennedy's decision to have his daughter treated with a lobotomy, which was written up in popular magazines of the time. "As a young girl, I was angry with Rose and Joe," said Koehler-Pentacoff.

Sister Paulus died in 1996. Rosemary Kennedy died in 2005, and is interred with her parents in Massachusetts.

"I'm a strong believer in the afterlife," said Koehler-Pentacoff, who was raised in the Catholic Church. "I feel very confident that she's happy, whole and with her family."

 
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