Author and Pitt-Bradford alumnus John Schlimm to discuss “Five Years in Heaven”

BRADFORD, Pa. — International award-winning author and University of Pittsburgh at Bradford alumnus John Schlimm will discuss and sign his new memoir, “Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life’s Greatest Questions,” on campus next week.

Schlimm will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the Harriett B. Wick Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. The “In Conversation with John Schlimm” event is being hosted by the Friends of Hanley Library and is open and free to the public.

“Five Years in Heaven” is the story of how, at age 31 and at a crucial crossroads in his life, Schlimm met 87-year-old nun and artist Sister Augustine, who had long been hidden away from the world in a remote corner of the 150-year-old St. Joseph Monastery in St. Marys.

Their hundreds of visits over five years provided Schlimm with a blueprint of universal answers and life lessons. Meanwhile during that period, Schlimm was able to show his friend that her life (and many talents as an artist) still had one very important last chapter left to go.

The book’s grassroots message of hope and second chances has affected thousands, including a grandma in Iowa who asked Schlimm to draw a hummingbird in a copy for her daughter whose 8-year-old son passed away from cancer. Another mother told Schlimm about her son who is in the throes of drug addiction and how Sister Augustine’s advice in the book is helping her to cope with this enormous challenge. With the release of the Korean and Chinese editions of the book, Sister’s lessons are now reaching an international audience as well.

“Her cloistered world became my refuge and my most important classroom. From the beginning, we were teacher and student in ever-changing roles, traversing the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage,” Schlimm wrote. “Within those walls, I could ask any question, confide any secret, vent any frustration, and float any brainstorm. No topic was off-limits – from forgiveness, death, and even the existence of God, to love, success, creativity, sin, and my own lifelong struggles with personal demons.”

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