When Dr. Gregory J. Trench finished his telephone conversation on an unseasonably warm evening in early January 1998, he was wearing a contented smile. The forty-four-year-old physician had been talking to his friend Leonard Richter, who had told him what he wanted to hear: the team was now complete. The team in question had nothing to do with his medical training and everything to do with his religious beliefs. To understand the connection, one must begin with the story of Trench’s conversion to an esoteric faith.
Dr. Trench came from a Catholic family of second-generation Irish immigrants. His grandfather, Tobias Trench, arrived in America from Dublin in 1908 and settled in Chicago, where he opened a small printing shop specializing in religious literature. By the time Gregory was born, in 1954, it was his father, Theodore, who was running the business, which now also included a bookstore: “The Beacon.” Besides its stock of religious publications, the store, located in the basement of the renovated family house, also carried a large selection of books on related subjects ranging from history and philosophy to astrology and esotericism.
Theodore and his American wife Mary Ann were both Roman Catholic. But unlike the woman, who observed the rites and precepts of her creed to the letter, Theodore was not particularly devout. His practice of religion seemed more a matter of tradition than conviction. Even though the couple’s two boys and two girls had been baptized, the father was reluctant to impose the Catholic faith on them.