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Grapevine : May 2011
30 May 2011 A A is not allied with any denomination, nor is it opposed to any denomi- nation. Yet, I’ve noticed that, in meetings, one particular denomi- nation frequently gets mentioned negatively, masked sometimes in ill-advised humor. I remember reading about Sister Ignatia in AA Comes of Age, and seeing her picture in the center of the book. The early Akron group brought new recruits to the Sister at St. Thomas Hospital and, with Dr. Bob’s encourage- ment, she established a detox in the flower room. She accepted this twelve-stepping alcoholic patriarch’s revolutionary new ideas and kept the doors open for members to visit sick and suffering patients, and thus find relief from their cravings. No thought was given to religious affiliation. It was calculated that she and Dr. Bob worked with over 5,000 alcoholics before she passed. Father Ed Dowl- ing, another AA legend, sought out Bill in the N.Y. Clubhouse. He had read the first edition of the Big Book and was struck by the similarity of our Twelve Steps to the Igna- tian Spiritual Exercises. They talked at length about ego deflation as a springboard to a spiritual awakening. Thereafter, Bill sought out Father Ed as a key spiritual ad- viser. Father Ed started AA meetings in St. Louis and helped scores of alcohol- ics discover AA and the Twelve Steps. Father Ed Dowling was also a fea- tured speaker and guest at our first International Convention in St. Louis. Bill, Dr. Bob, Sister Ignatia and Father Ed knew it was best not to exclude anyone on the basis of religion, so this AA tradition of coopera- tion without affiliation was established. Bill W. borrowed heavily from men of religion when writing the Big Book and the “Twelve and Twelve.” Open mouth; insert Trad.10 Is blasting a particular religion unwelcoming to newcomers? Traditions GRAPE_30-31.indd 30 4/4/11 1:06 PM