REVIEW A Gentle Unfolding: Circling and Spiralling into Meaning

Judith Scully had me hooked with her opening sentence: “At some point in my early teens, just when I was discovering there was more to the opposite sex than beneath-my-notice little brothers, I fell in love with God.”

Judith’s memoir is indeed a love story, drawn from her gift for words and the wisdom that age brings. In this memoir, she looks back over her life − at times in anger, occasionally with a tinge of regret, but more often than not with a loving appreciation infused by deep faith.

Judith entered the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 16. “I was in love and, when you are in love, you will go wherever and whenever the loved one calls,” she said.

When she left the congregation, it was not because she had fallen out of love. Instead, after 16 years, she recognised a gentle unfolding from that life and a yearning for something more.

The world − and the church − had changed and the transition wasn’t easy but it was fruitful. “Moving away from what had been my centre had freed me to hear God’s voice in new and different ways,” Judith said.

She married Terry - and together they raised three siblings who needed a stable and caring home environment. Teaching and parish ministry also offered many challenges.

Another dimension of Judith’s life shared in A Gentle Unfolding is her regular encounters with Sophia women. She describes them as: “Women who no longer feel nourished by the institutional church….without exception, all of them live with a creative openness to the needs of others… family, friends or the wider community”.

I love the insistent femininity of the memoir’s title, A Gentle Unfolding: Circling and Spiralling into Meaning.


 An alternative title could have been simply Being Myself. 

“The older sisters who hadn’t let years of religious life squash their personalities touched into something in me that I was vaguely beginning to recognise as ‘being myself’ – without knowing exactly what that might mean,” she wrote.

Judith Scully is still being herself – and the reader is richer for sharing the journey.   


Judith Scully A Gentle Unfolding: Circling and Spiralling into Meaning David Lovell Publishing Melbourne 2018. Please visit


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Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.

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