By the time you read this I will be touching down in Zurich Switzerland to begin a 2-year writing project which will result in my next book, The Hutterite Story.
In May of this year, I received a Saskatchewan Arts Board Grant for the initial stage of my research; a 3-week trip to Switzerland, Italy and Austria in August where, 500 years ago, the Hutterite story began.
It will be a daunting task. Unlike our spiritual cousins, the Amish and the Mennonites who also broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th Protestant Reformation, Hutterites have not shared their story with the mass market. While our forefathers were eloquent messengers who left an enormous archive of materials detailing our rich journey of faith and way of life, modern Hutterites chose the path of least resistance. No doubt, part of the reason is the intense persecution they suffered for so many centuries. By the time we arrived in North America we just wanted peace. But silence has a price. It’s fertile ground for misperceptions and misunderstandings.
Writing The Hutterite Story, will be an intensely challenging endeavour. It will require me to travel to 8 countries with 8 different languages over the next 2 years. Our relics and artifacts are prized and literally strewn across Italy, Austria, Moravia, Slovakia, Hungary, Transylvania and the Russian Ukraine. Early Hutterites remain greatly beloved and our artifacts are a fascination and a tourist attraction in Europe.
Hutterites owe a lot to non-Hutterite scholars who have kept our story alive over the last century. They include historians such as John Hostetler, Leonard Gross, Werner O Puckell and John Ruth, among others. Their books, along with the Hutterite Chronicle, are incredibly valuable resources.
When I return in September I will share favorite memories of my trip as I begin the writing process.
While I’m away I will post excerpts of my award-winning memoir, I Am Hutterite in my blog posts. Its been deemed a Canadian Prairie Classic and this year marks the 10th anniversary of its publication. Thank you to my wonderful readers who embraced the Hutterite culture and were delighted by it.
To all educators, I Am Hutterite is widely used in schools and universities as a teaching tool for ELA, Canadian History and Cultural Diversity. You can download a curriculum study guide under Books on my website www.polkadotpress.ca
I Am Hutterite is on sale for $15.00 at www.polkadotpress.ca/thebooks
Mary-Ann Kirkby is a Hutterite Author and Professional Speaker. Her award-winning books, Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen, and I Am Hutterite, are available in book stores and at www.polkadotpress.ca. Contact Mary-Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!