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  • NYS Writers Institute

Event: Michael J. O'Loughlin, author of "Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear"

"Michael O'Loughlin sets his sights on an aspect of recent American history and culture too little examined. Hidden Mercy will cause discussion, argument, and maybe recommitment to an ideal of faith in action that can still play out in our day. And a good thing too."

-- Gregory Maguire, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West


Join Paul Grondahl for a conversation with journalist Michael J. O'Loughlin, author of Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear.


O'Loughlin is the executive director of Outreach, an LGBTQ Catholic ministry, an award-winning journalist, national correspondent at America Media. His book is based on the podcast series, "Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church."


Author Michael J. O'Loughlin

In conversation with Paul Grondahl

6 p.m. Thursday, June 13

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

125 Eagle Street Albany, NY 12202

Free and open to the public


About the book

The 1980s and 1990s, the height of the AIDS crisis in the United States, was decades ago now, and many of the stories from this time remain hidden: A Catholic nun from a small Midwestern town packs up her life to move to New York City, where she throws herself into a community under assault from HIV and AIDS. A young priest sees himself in the many gay men dying from AIDS and grapples with how best to respond, eventually coming out as gay and putting his own career on the line. A gay Catholic with HIV loses his partner to AIDS and then flees the church, focusing his energy on his own health rather than fight an institution seemingly rejecting him.


Set against the backdrop of the HIV and AIDS epidemic of the late twentieth century and the Catholic Church's crackdown on gay and lesbian activists, journalist Michael O'Loughlin searches out the untold stories of those who didn't look away, who at great personal cost chose compassion--even as he seeks insight for LGBTQ people of faith struggling to find a home in religious communities today.


This is one journalist's -- gay and Catholic himself -- compelling picture of those quiet heroes who responded to human suffering when so much of society--and so much of the church--told them to look away. These pure acts of compassion and mercy offer us hope and inspiration as we continue to confront existential questions about what it means to be Americans, Christians, and human beings responding to those most in need.


About the author

Michael J. O'Loughlin is the national correspondent for America Media, where he writes regularly about the Catholic Church, and the host of the podcast, "Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church."

The "Plague" podcast was recommended by The New York Times and won awards from The National LGBTQ Journalists Association, the Religion News Association, and the Catholic Press Association. Mike is the author of a book based on the podcast, Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear (November 2021, Broadleaf Books).

He is also author of The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters (2015, HarperOne).

Previously a staff writer for The Boston Globe's Crux, Mike has also written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Advocate, and Religion News Service. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NPR and by several local and regional media outlets.



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