Conversations with Richard Purcell

Richard Purcell was an openly gay Franciscan priest who ran a homeless shelter for men with AIDS in San Francisco. He died in 2011 of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was cared for by many of the homeless men who he had taken in.

Susan Casslan and Richard Purcell co-authored the nonfiction book Conversations with Richard Purcell: The Adventures and Reflections of a Renegade San Francisco Priest. The book document’s Purcell’s life and death. Casslan also reflects in the book on her own spiritual journey, as she interacts with Purcell, who is a remarkably funny and inspiring individual.

The book touches on the themes of death and dying and the reconciling of sexual orientation with spirituality.

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“Casslan’s excellent book tells the story of a fascinating and inspiring man. Purcell lived life as a man of contradictions: Catholic, gay, charismatic Franciscan, unorthodox priest, radical, maverick, Irish American, caregiver, spiritual guide, and so much more. In these pages I enjoyed getting to know a man who was at times exasperating, yet saintly. Richard was a true follower of St. Francis, patron of San Francisco, and friend of the poor.” Donal Godfrey, SJ, author of The Gays and the Grays

“Casslan’s book is a wonderful way to get to know not only Richard Purcell, but so many of the other interesting individuals who surrounded his life and passing. I first met Richard as a fellow Franciscan at a retreat I directed for The Province of St. Barbara many years ago. He has always impressed me as someone who lived his spirituality in a radical and cut to the bone manner. This is a beautifully crafted work about a man who had so much to share in the way of love, humor and inspiration.” Richard Rohr OFM, author of Radical Grace and The Naked Now

“Glenn Burke, the famous gay baseball player who died of AIDS, lived at Marty’s Place with Richard Purcell. I met Richard while working on a film about Burke, and Purcell’s charisma and character were powerful. His illness was no match for his personality. The time with Richard wasn’t just helpful to the film, it was personally enlightening. I am happy to know that Richard’s legacy, especially his humor and words of wisdom will live on in this book.” Sean Madison, Co-producer of Out. The Glenn Burke Story