It’s a transition that the author describes masterfully through his character, Fr. Brennan Burke, the cunning protagonist who appears in the majority of his crime/mystery stories.
A Halifax resident and parishioner of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, Emery is the author of 12 novels, most of which feature the indomitable Irish-born, Fordham-educated Irish father who was gifted in music and languages. Burke who, despite a tortuous path to the priesthood, is almost saintly in his reverence for the celebration of Mass and his openness to the action of grace in times of turmoil.
Emery worked in law and journalism before turning to writing full-time in 2005.
“I’ve always wanted to write,” Emery said. “I loved writing stories in my early years at school, but it never felt like I was writing for a living. I studied English and Philosophy in college and I graduated with a master’s degree in political science. Between these studies, I obtained my law degree. So I embarked on a legal career, but I started writing my first novel while I was still working at the law firm. .
But halfway through writing her first novel, sign of the crossEmery realized that the life of a writer was too exhilarating to give up.
“So I decided to write a series, and luckily I had given the characters a background that could be exploited over and over again for future stories,” she said.
Although all the characters in Emery’s novels are compelling and well-developed, it is Fr. Burke who continues to captivate his readers.
Fr. Burke’s character is portrayed as a liberal in everything concerning the Church, except for its music and the celebration of Mass.
Part of the fascination is the priest’s backstory. Each of the novels reveals a bit more about the growth and development of the priest and his wayward path to the priesthood. Not only Fr. Burke is too fond of drinking and pub life, he is hot-tempered, aggressive, and has little patience for fools and miscreants. More shockingly, it is revealed that Fr. Burke fathered a child in his pre-seminary days.
Despite the all-too-human failings of his priest, Emery makes it clear that if the father. Burke may have turned his back on the Church at times, he never turned away from God.
The priest “loves the traditional Latin Mass and Gregorian chant, the great music of Palestrina and Victoria, Mozart and other brilliant composers,” Emery added. “But that being said, Burke is not otherwise a conservative-leaning Catholic. In fact, he is liberal on other subjects. It’s just that he doesn’t want to lose the beauty of traditional music and liturgy.
Consider Fr. Burke’s commentary in this excerpt from the 2009 novel, Cecilian Vespers“This may surprise you, given the schlock you have heard in the Church since the (Vatican) Council. But the council itself wrote that the musical tradition of the universal Church is a “treasure of inestimable value, greater even than any other art”. Which means it’s bigger than Michelangelo’s Pieta, bigger than the huge Gothic cathedrals with priceless stained glass windows. Music is preeminent because it is “a necessary or integral part of the solemnity
In some ways, Fr. Burke’s attitude toward traditional music echoes Emery’s spiritual journey.
“I was raised Catholic, but had turned away from the faith and been outside the Church for half of my adult life. In a very real sense, the beauty of music and the feeling of awe it engenders is what brought me back to the Church.
But it wasn’t just his character’s love of traditional church music that encouraged Emery to re-embrace the Church. During his research, Emery uncovered many evidences of the interdependence of faith and science.
“Once my interest in faith was piqued again, I began to investigate the rational bases of faith and belief,” Emery said. “I began to read some of the great Catholic philosophers and converted Catholics, such as Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Avery Dulles, SJ, among others, and other Christian writers who are experts in science and who demonstrate that there is no contradiction between science and religion. It may be the lawyer in me, but I want my faith to be well grounded in reason. And it’s.”
The Fr. Burke series includes many upheavals in the Church in the post-Vatican II era.
As a writer from Halifax, Emery is not well known in the United States, but she has found great success among Canadian readers, particularly those in the Maritime provinces. Since she began writing in 2005, Emery has won awards in Crime Writing and General Fiction, as well as a 2011 Silver Medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for her fifth book, Children in the morning. His book sign of the cross won the 2007 Crime Writers of Canada Award for Best First Novel. Although the skies are fallinga tale about the Troubles in Ireland, won another Crime Writers Award for Best Novel.
Pr. Burke will next appear in Emery’s Fenian Streeta story set in Dublin and New York in the early 1970s. This book, due out in September, will feature a young Fr. Burke.
His latest release Sightings, is a self-contained historical novel set in Ireland over two distinct time periods: the late 16th century and the present day. Although this new version does not feature Fr. Burke, it features a collection of Irish/Gaelic characters seeking to survive during and following the English conquest of Ireland.
Emery considers Fr. Burke “an example” of the Catholic faith which, despite its rough edges, is an intellectual theologian capable of occasional mystical experience.
“I guess I’m a writer who happens to be Catholic,” Emery said, “but Fr. Burke doesn’t just show up in my stories, so I’m somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I’m sure some Catholics and other religious people will look askance at some of the foul language my characters use from time to time, and that includes Fr. Burke and his bishop. But some words are less stigmatized among Irish people. And I really like them. realistic dialogues.