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"A heartfelt, personal story of the gradual awakening of a woman who comes to see that preferring the 'human to the perfect' does not alienate her from authentic spirituality but allows her to live more fully."

Kathleen Norris,
author of The Cloister Walk

I’m happy to talk with book groups by Skype or in person, as my schedule allows. In exchange for my joining the discussion for fifty minutes, I ask that each member of the group make a $20 donation to A Room of Her Own Foundation, to support other women who tell their stories. If you'd like me to speak with your book group, contact us


  1. When did you empathize most with Sister Donata? When was she the most exasperating?
  2. The subtitle of An Unquenchable Thirst is “Following Mother Teresa in search of love, service and an authentic life.” What does an “authentic life” mean to you?
  3. The Missionaries of Charity (MC) sisters took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service to the poor. Which vow(s) did Sister Donata have the most trouble honoring?
  4. Sister Donata wondered, “Was an attraction that bordered on obsession the same thing as a call from God?” Discuss.
  5. What was Mary Johnson’s motivation to leave a world where she was considered the “most likely to succeed” to enter a world as the “spouse of Christ crucified”?
  6. At one point Mother Teresa says to the MC sisters, “Holiness is a simple duty for you and me.” Do you think this is essential to or counterproductive for the MCs?
  7. It takes twenty years for Sister Donata to leave the MCs. Do you approve of her decision? If you agree with her decision to leave would you have left when she did or at another time? Explain.
  8. What did you learn about life as an MC that was the most surprising?
  9. Was your image of Mother Teresa upheld, reinforced or shaken by Mary Johnson’s portrayal of her?
  10. Discuss your reaction to “The Discipline.”
  11. Mother Teresa believed that “for love to be real it has to hurt.” Discuss the implications of this perspective in the life of the MC sisters.
  12. Mary Johnson believes that as a teenager she was “too ugly to have a boyfriend,” then she goes on to candidly reveal her sexual awakening during her years with the MCs. Do you believe she experienced true romance, physical lust or mature love? Discuss.
  13. How did you feel about the portrayal of the priests in An Unquenchable Thirst? Specifically, Father Reid, Father Mark Attard, Father Doug, Father Bob, and finally Father Tom?
  14. Was Sister Niobe a villain or a victim? Explain.
  15. Who was your favorite Superior? Who was your least favorite? How would you define the political/leadership structure of the MCs?
  16. Describe the importance of Mother Teresa in your life.
  17. Sister Donata thought that “Jesus had considered love the most important commandment. St. John even said, ‘God is love.’ I didn’t want to be the kind of sister who was more concerned with keeping the Rules than with the love of God.” Should representing the love of God through service be sufficient?
  18. Is An Unquenchable Thirst a story of a modern feminist?
  19. That education destroyed vocations was a suspicion held by the MC leadership. Discuss the consequences of this for the MCs.
  20. As Mistress of formation for sisters in training Sister Donata felt ill-equipped. Discuss her efforts to get training for the job and the resistance she experienced from the MCs.
  21. Would you approve of your sister or daughter joining the MCs? Explain.
  22. How did you feel when you learned that Mary Johnson now considers herself an atheist?
  23. Do you consider yourself religious or spiritual or both? In what ways did you identify with Sister Donata’s incredible journey of hope, service and love? 


Mary loves book groups!  If you would like Mary to speak with your book group, contact us. If you're too far away for an in-person visit, Mary is happy to talk with book groups by Skype, as her schedule allows. In exchange for joining the discussion for fifty minutes, Mary asks that each member of the group make a $20 donation to A Room of Her Own Foundation, to support other women who tell their stories.