‘Radical love’ captured on lens

When it came time to title her first photographic monographic, the culmination of seven years of working, Toni Greaves knew what would best encapsulate the book: “Radical Love.”

Toni had followed a remarkable story, starting with 21-year-old Lauren, a college student with a vibrant social circle, an impressive athletic record and a boyfriend hoping to one day marry and start a family. But Lauren felt called to religious life and one day heard God propose via a YouTube song. She chose to become a cloistered nun, joining the Dominican Nuns, a monastic community in Summit, N.J.

Toni began photographing her three weeks after Sister Lauren arrived, then the youngest nun, capturing the transformative journey in which she became Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart.  

“This story is a window into hear early love of God,” Toni wrote on her website, where she features 21 of the early photographs. (She also shares images on a 6-minute Vimeo video.)

The book was published by Chronicle last fall to critical acclaim.

"Toni Greaves's luminous images marry the quotidian with the divine in all sorts of ways: a young novice dribbles a basketball in full habit; a jar of Vick's VapoRub nestles a bottle of holy water; a group portrait of all 19 sisters, whose ages range from 25 to 90, includes Sabina, the golden retriever, splayed flat on the floor,” wrote The New York Times.

A wide range of readers praised the book, giving it a 5-star Amazon rating. “I love these images, I found myself in a moment wanting the sweetness of being surrounded by sisters that comes with being a nun... and I'm as much of a heathen as you can possibly imagine,” one wrote. “Really humanizing and haunting. I look forward to contemplating these photos more.” 

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.