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This is a story of a vast cattle and oil fortune left hanging by the thread of a widow's dying wish; a story of prodigious egos and ambitions competing for the fortune before the widow was even buried; a story about a legal battle that has lasted a quarter-century and has swept like a range fire from dusty cow-town courtrooms to the marble halls of the Vatican, pitting captains of industry against princes of the Church. And if it had happened anywhere other than Texas, you probably wouldn't believe a word of it.
Sarita Kenedy East was the aging, melancholy mistress of a cattle kingdom as big as Rhode Island: La Parra, 400,000 acres of South Texas rangeland next door to the fabled King Ranch. She was the last Kenedy. And although she cherished the huge ranch founded by her grandfather, her life there oppressed her. Mrs. East's only solace was in her memories, her abiding Catholic faith, and her nightly tumblers of scotch.
In 1948 Sarita received a surprise caller, a young and charismatic Trappist monk, Brother Leo—the alleged Svengali of this saga—who had been sent out from his monastery in New England to scout potential sites for new Trappist monasteries…and to find rich Catholic donors to pay for them. In time he discovered what Sarita herself did not know, that under her lands lay an ocean of oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Brother Leo had a gift for persuasion. He became the lonely widow's spiritual counselor, and before she died she made him trustee of a charitable foundation that he says was meant to help the poor of Latin America. But Brother Leo ran into some formidable opposition: Sarita's vengeful relatives in Texas, Fortune 500 industrialist J. Peter Grace, and the Catholic Church itself all had other plans for the giant estate.
"If You Love Me You Will Do My Will," based upon two decades of investigative reporting and interviews with almost every major character, details this extravagant drama, an epic even by Texas standards....