“There is a certain glibness – a certain tongue-in-cheekness- about the way I use the word “fake” with regard to my priesthood. And I intend it that way. Not as a joke. Not as a throwaway line. And not as a clever repartee designed to sidestep my own accountability . . . but it’s the word I choose, and I have not been able to find one better to describe this terrible and shocking notion that continues to hold me in its grip, that I have no business here.”
Such candor is the hallmark of Confessions of a Fake Priest, the story of Caroline Fairless’s unlikely path to ordination, her moments of disillusion and despair, and, ultimately, her rebirth into a new understanding of priesthood. In this book you will share a journey that begins with an ending, and ends with a beginning, a journey that is never over. It is a journey with a companion who convinces you that it’s okay to doubt, okay to be afraid, okay to take great risks to find answers. This memoir serves as a tapestry, weaving together the strands of reflection and experience in a tale of a rich and complex search for authenticity.
(From the Preface) I call myself a fake priest. I know now, because a friend explained it for me, that there’s a real name for what I’ve got. It’s called the “Imposter Syndrome.” You’re not capable of doing what you’re doing. Not old enough, not grown-up enough, not gifted enough, and certainly not called. The Imposter Syndrome.
Years later, I am utterly convinced that this stage of growth is critical to the discovery of our own inner knowing, our own inner authority, however we name it. The Center for Courage and Renewal, a non-profit grounded in the teachings and writings of Parker Palmer, names it our inner teacher. Truthfully, the writing of this book didn’t propel me into anything absolute, but I consider it an invaluable and essential step in the process. I still carry the seeds of imposter, and I am grateful for them. I believe they encourage me in the direction of honesty.