Dom Gabriel Sortais: An Amazing Abbot in Turbulent Times is an engaging biography of one of the most colorful Abbot Generals among the Trappists. Dom Gabriel put his stamp on the order in a very personal way, a form that remains with us today despite his best efforts to bring the Order up-to-date. His tragic death during the course of Vatican Two impeded the implementation of his vision for the whole Order. Dom Guy Oury, a Benedictine monk of Solesmes, has written the story with remarkable clarity. As much as possible, Fr. Oury works from the primary sources, which include witnesses and documents from the Abbey of Bellefontaine in France, where he was a monk and later abbot before being elected Abbot General of the order, as well as the archives of the Generalate in Rome. This book offers insight into the lives of the Trappists during the troubled times of World War II and also throughout the changes of Vatican Two.
Fr. Guy Oury, OSB, was asked by Dom Emmanuel Coutant, the Abbot of Bellefontaine, to write the biography of his predecessor, Dom Gabriel Sortais. He was given all the papers in the archives at Bellefontaine that were gathered together following Dom Gabriel's death. There is an admirable objectivity in the present biography, which was ably translated into English by Br. Brian Kerns of the Abbey of the Genesee, near Piffard, New York. The Afterword by Fr. Laurence Bourget of St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusettes, demonstrates an appreciation by a monk who worked closely with Dom Gabriel Sortais during the last years of his life. Fr. Guy Oury himself died on November 2, 2000, at the age of 71.
Dom Gabriel Sortais is a tome worth the read in itself, and for those interested in a more complex approach to Sortais and Sortais-Merton, it is an essential book to read and re-read.
The Merton Journal
This superb biography of a minor but representative figure of the twentieth-century Church is recommended to all Cistercians and other monastics interested in modern monastic history.
Cistercian Studies Quarterly