#229 – The First Sponsor, Discovering Father Ed with Dawn Eden Goldstein


Dawn Eden Goldstein is the author of the new biography “Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.’s Spiritual Sponsor” as well as several other books. Veronica and Dawn have a fascinating conversation about how pivotal Father Ed’s sponsorship of Bill W. was.

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about this episode

Are you familiar with the story of Father Ed Dowling and his relationship with Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

In her new book, today’s guest Dawn Eden Goldstein sheds new light on the early days of AA and how Father Ed played a significant role in spreading its message.

Despite not being an alcoholic himself, Father Ed was deeply devoted to helping those struggling with alcoholism. He saw the 12 steps of AA as a gift from God and the Holy Spirit, and he believed that they could be applied to everyone, not just alcoholics. He co-founded an AA chapter in St. Louis and corresponded with the main office of AA before finally meeting Bill in person.

“Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.’s Spiritual Sponsor” is a fascinating read that highlights an important piece of AA history, and it just might just inspire you to be more gentle with yourself and to do more for others.

In this episode, Dawn and Veronica talk about:

  • The different threads of Father Ed’s life that surprised Dawn in her research for the book
  • How Dawn became interested in Father Ed’s story
  • Father Ed’s life before becoming a Jesuit, including his love for sports and his career as a newspaper reporter
  • Why Father Ed developed an interest in AA and how he saw the 12 steps
  • Bill W.’s struggles with AA and the difference that Father Ed’s mentorship made
  • How Father Ed helped Dawn understand the grace in the struggle
  • Father Ed’s contribution to the spread of AA and his dedication to the people he met
  • What it was like for Dawn to research Father Ed
  • Dawn’s hope for “Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.’s Spiritual Sponsor”


About Dawn Eden Goldstein

Dawn Eden Goldstein is the author of the new biography Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.’s Spiritual Sponsor as well as several other books. Born in New York City, she began her writing career as a rock and roll historian. She went on to work for the New York Post and the New York Daily News before she turned her interest to spiritual matters. In 2016 she became the first woman to earn a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. She has taught at universities and seminaries in the United States, England, and India, and she now lives in Washington, DC.


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