Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat's Story
by Sula, Parish Cat at Old Mission
MSI Press

"I know my purpose in life - many people are still seeking their purpose. They are among the ones I minister to."

There have always been cats living at the Old Mission San Juan Bautista. It is one of twenty-one Spanish missions in southern California built by the Franciscan order. Round holes were cut into its heavy doors during construction. Early cats were welcomed to hunt mice, but the current parish cat, Sula, has been tasked with a different mission. Every day this big, white Turkish Van cat reports to the garden statue of St. Francis of Assisi, a lover of all animals… and people.

In this book, Sula claims to receive orders concerning which church visitors need the comfort of a cat companion on any given day. Regardless of how she recognizes her charges, Sula instinctively approaches someone in need. It might be a communicant taking confession for the last time before joining her departed spouse. It may be visitors who arrive at the mission in time for a mass. She sits quietly at their feet or climbs onto a lap. Perhaps it is someone who has read Sula's story online and has come to meet and pet this now famous cat.

Why is she famous? Sula is a cancer survivor. She has lost both ears due to melanoma skin cancer and resulting surgeries. (Two parishioners took care of her during that time.) Like any human might, Sula enjoys spending a great deal of time outside in the bright California sun. Being a survivor, she now attracts people who have or did have cancer themselves . The mission's gift shop office is Sula's official place of residence. The team there has encouraged the telling of her story, and that of some parishioners, in books and magazine articles.

Funds raised from the sale of this book will be used toward retrofitting the mission's structure to withstand earthquake damage.

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