Irene Dugan entered the international Roman Catholic community of women known as the Religious of the Cenacle in 1930, taking her vows in 1938 at the age of twenty-nine. She was a teacher, director of retreats, spiritual guide, and pioneer in depth spirituality—the blending of the traditions of Christian spirituality with modern holistic depth psychology and the arts. The innovative spiritual growth groups for laywomen she began in 1946 continued until her death. In the early 1970s, her interest in psychospiritual integration led her to Dr. Ira Progoff, and she became a Progoff Intensive Journal consultant, conducting innovative workshops in the U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. Irene dedicated many years to exploring the integration of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, with holistic depth psychology.
Avis Clendenen met Sister Dugan in 1971 when she was twenty-one and in search of a spiritual mentor. Irene served as her spiritual guide for the next twenty-six years. Their last conversation took place in June 1997, a few weeks before Irene’s death. She directed Avis to pick up a box she had left for her at the Fullerton Cenacle. The box contained two copies of her unfinished manuscript, an audio recording of her introduction to the book, and assorted notes and papers. Thus Avis became a trustee of Love Is All Around in Disguise, the title Irene had given to her book.
The notions of love surrounding us in disguise and of life as an adventure of endless discovery are threads in Irene’s unique philosophy of taking the risk to live life to the fullest, of not missing the boat. The First Epistle of John (4:16) records that God is love. This God who is love desires to find a home—to abide—in us. Such love is all around in disguise awaiting our discovery. This book—part polemic, part instruction manual—is the summation of Irene’s life work, told in her own words and supported by the rich understanding of her trustee.
Avis writes, "In putting together this book, it has been my challenge and graced opportunity to respect her voice and unique expressions in bringing to fruition this singular aspect of her spiritual legacy. This book [is] for those seeking a fuller share in the greatness—the potential for fulfilling ourselves—that Irene believed is our destiny."
This book is accompanied by an enhanced CD that includes video and audio clips of Irene Dugan and Avis Clendenen, plus the music by Jerri Greer.