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"Making a connection. Telling a story. Being a witness. That’s what catechists do. As translators of the truth they seek to give away what they possess because it was so freely passed onto them."

Pat Gohn - writer, speaker, catechist

This makes me think… how the family is threatened, and how that is remedied…

A quote from Pastor Rick Warren, who shared the stage with Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the World Meeting of Families a week ago. He commented on how the family is threatened in today’s society, and what our responsibility is in that regard.

“In today’s society, materialism is idolized, immorality is glamorized, truth is minimized, sin is normalized, divorce is rationalized, and abortion is legalized. In TV and movies, crime is legitimized, drug use is minimized, comedy is vulgarized, and sex is trivialized. In movies, the Bible is fictionalized, churches are satirized, God is marginalized, and Christians are demonized. The elderly are dehumanized, the sick are euthanized, the poor are victimized, the mentally ill are ostracized, immigrants are stigmatized, and children are tranquilized.

In families around the world, our manners are uncivilized, speech is vulgarized, faith is secularized, and everything is commercialized. Christians are often disorganized and demoralized, and their faith is compartmentalized, and witness compromised.

So what do we need? We need to revitalize our worship, minimize our differences, mobilize our members, and evangelize the lost, and we need to re-energize our families.”

Our Lady of Charity answers my prayers… she sent Maria Morera Johnson on pilgrimage with the #PopeInCuba

Our Lady of Charity answers my prayers… she sent Maria Morera Johnson on pilgrimage with the #PopeInCuba


Sisters in Christ, daughters of Mary.

One of the many fruits of my friendship with María Morera Johnson, is not only finding a friend who loves the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, but through her I learned about Mary’s title as Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba. Her full title in Spanish is La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. 

Good friends teach you about stuff. They share what moves them. I visited María’s extended family in Miami in 2011. Part of that trip included a little pilgrimage to Our Lady of Charity’s shrine there, also known as the Ermita del la Caridad. It is dear to many with Cuban ancestry. When I’m there, I think of the many people in the course of my lifetime who have left their country under difficult circumstances. The shrine looks out to sea from the shoreline. I can only imagine how many prayers and tears have mingled with those waters that fill the 90-mile gap from Florida to Cuba.

I have been very taken with this title of Our Lady of Charity, and her patronage.

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My statue of Our Lady of Charity.

After that Miami visit I had an opportunity to write about the story of Our Lady of Charity. I’ve even been back to Miami two more times to visit the Ermita. I’ve prayed for my friend and her Cuban family members’ intentions both there and before the image of Our Lady of Charity that is in my home — a gift from the Morera family.

Over the years I have prayed that María would one day have a chance to make a pilgrimage to the original El Cobre shrine in Cuba, the country of her birth.

I think Our Lady had that same prayer.

The thing about God’s timing and God’s plan is that it is always so much better than anything we can ever hope for or imagine.

I would have never predicted that such a pilgrimage would include a selfie with the Pope.

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Pope Francis, Maria Morera Johnson, Cuba, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maria M Johnson.)

María just returned from a pilgrimage to Cuba that coincided with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Cuba. It’s her story to tell. And I’m happy to ask you to read it.

Read her second installment about her Cuban journey, complete with the selfie with the Pope, over at Aleteia. Her first installment is here.

You can also follow María Johnson’s blog.

Oh, in other news, María has a book coming out in the next few weeks: My Badass Book of Saints… 

One last thing… you see that little medal María is wearing in the photo above?  I’ve never seen one until I met her. It’s Our Lady of Charity.


Update from 10.5.2015: An Offering to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba. This post really touched my heart.

Saturday #2 of “The Five First Saturdays… ” — who’s with me? #5FirstSat4Mary

Saturday #2 of “The Five First Saturdays… ” — who’s with me? #5FirstSat4Mary

We interrupt all the post-Pope coverage for this reminder… Tomorrow is a first Saturday.

Over the summer I was convicted to attempt to make the Five First Saturdays devotion. Let me just say that, like in most families, Saturdays can be pretty hectic. And on reflection, that’s probably why I need this all the more. It’s a taming of my chaotic heart. This devotions send me to monthly confession — always a good practice. It sends me to Mass to meet the lover of my soul in Holy Communion. And it asks me to pray the Rosary to be in touch with Momma Mary, and the intentions of the day.

In this post I share the precepts of making this devotion, so my purpose here is just to encourage you to join me. You can start your five Saturdays tomorrow. (Or if you are reading this down the line, on the next first Saturday.)

After I posted the invitation to join me in the First Saturdays, a little campaign developed on Twitter and Facebook that asked others to join in, as a kind of encouragement and solidarity with one another. What a blessing that is, so if you want, use the #hashtag  and let’s invite others.


A few notes about this from last month’s experience…

For me, it’s all about conquering the calendar: To make these five mornings a priority. Last month I was going to out of town on the first Saturday, so I had to look up and find a church in the area where I was staying. It also meant I had to restructure my Friday to find a confession time, since I could not rely on that as part of the travel. It afforded me a lovely respite visit to St Joseph the Worker Shrine, one of my favorite haunts over the years. A priest I had never met there before heard my confession and blessed my socks off.

After driving that night to New York, on the next morning, the church my husband and I found for Saturday morning Mass turned out to be a lovely classically hewed-stone church with a “first Saturday” group praying the rosary after Mass, and — bonus! — discovered an eucharistic adoration chapel before we left!

So try it. Ask Momma Mary to help you get this scheduled… to open your calendar and your heart to these prayers and reparation and love of Jesus and Mary. 


My photo from inside the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, PA.

Two New Among Women Podcasts feature #PopeInPhilly

Two New Among Women Podcasts feature #PopeInPhilly

I had a great trip to Philly for the World Meeting of Families and the Papal Mass accompanied by my dear friend, Lisa Hendey.

There’s so much to unpack spiritually and professionally, but let’s start with the two new podcasts… one short and one long.


The new ‘espresso shot’ length of Among Women has been fun to institute and the most recent one uploaded today has women responding to this question: “What would you like to ask Pope Francis?” Check it out here. 

Then there’s a long special edition podcast — a conversation with Lisa Hendey as we drove home in my car.

Buckle up as we drive home and record this podcast examining the World Meeting talks, homilies, the city of Philadelphia, music by Matt Maher and Andrea Bocelli, praying with saints, the people we met, and the fun we had with the global convention known as the World Meeting of Families that sparked the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis to the US.

We covered the high points, the things that were meaningful to us. Its hard to reduce 8 days of travel into a single conversation, but we cover a lot of ground. This rambling conversation took place IN a MINI, but it ain’t a mini conversation. It clocks in at 90 minutes. We are two friends in real life who love to travel together and gab! I hope you enjoy it.

Lisa and I, Papal Mass.

Lisa and I, Papal Mass.


I’m at World Meeting of Families… some links, photos, and an espresso shot Among Women to get started

I’m at World Meeting of Families… some links, photos, and an espresso shot Among Women to get started

There’s been so much to do in the last few days, and I’m hard pressed for time to share it all, but here’s a few posts that review some my journey to the World Meeting of Families, plus a new podcast with the jubilant voices of some of the participants I’ve met from around the world… from the sidewalks of Philadelphia and PA convention center hallways.

Listen to the Among Women Espresso Shot #2: the World Meeting of Families


I’m blessed to be sharing this with my globe-trotting good friend, Lisa Hendey –– who is truly in her element. This is how I see Lisa several times an hour… sharing her experiences on social media. She is breathtakingly committed to sharing this far and wide…. and I’m in awe of her.


This will be how I will remember seeing her… discovering all that is good, and in a relentless search

In search of coffee...

for coffee…

Read Lisa Hendey’s posts here and here.

And don’t miss Lisa’s Aleteia report on her mid-week trek to see and hear the Pope in Washington DC.


There was much time spent around the Ave Maria Press booth.


With Helen Alvare, Teresa Tomeo, Lisa Hendey, and Catherine (Helen’s daughter).

And several reunions with friends so far…


Meeting the amazing Diana von Glahn, center.



With Terry Polakovic, who is soon to be retired from Endow.



with the Daughters of St Paul.



With “Ben.”



And with a liberty bell replica at the media center.


We did get to see the real Liberty Bell, in front of Independence Hall.


Hope to be back with more soon!




Schedule for Ave Maria Press Book Signings at #WMF2015. Meet me & others at Booth 742!

Schedule for Ave Maria Press Book Signings at #WMF2015. Meet me & others at Booth 742!

Awesome book resources from many of Ave Maria Press’ authors can be found at booth #742 at the World Meeting of Families! Hope to see you this Wednesday at 2pm!

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015
4 p.m.–Live broadcast with Greg and Lisa Popcak

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015
9:45 a.m–live broadcast with Grace Urbanski
10 a.m.–Grace Urbanski and Susie Lloyd book signing
11 a.m.–live broadcast with Sr. Terry Rickard
12:45 p.m.–live broadcast with Teresa Tomeo1-59471-370-7_
1 p.m.–Teresa Tomeo book signing
2 p.m.–book signing with Pat Gohn and Lisa Hendey
3:15 p.m.–live broadcast with Lisa Hendey and Pat Gohn

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015
9:45 a.m.–live broadcast with Marge Fenelon
10 a.m.–book signing with Marge Fenelon
12:45 p.m.–live broadcast with Lisa Duffy
1:30 p.m.–book signing with Lisa Duffy
1 p.m.–book signing with Fr. Michael White
3 p.m.–live broadcast with Fr. Michael White
5:15 p.m.–book signing with Carmen Santamaria and Angelique Ruhi-Lopez
5:45 p.m.–live broadcast with Carmen and Angelique
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It’s like I’m going to the Catholic Super Bowl. #PopeIsHope #goodiswinning #PopeinPhilly

It’s like I’m going to the Catholic Super Bowl. #PopeIsHope #goodiswinning #PopeinPhilly

I feel like I’m going to the Catholic Super Bowl! And we’re all rooting for the same team! It seems to me that the World Meeting of Families (WMF) has morphed into the World Meeting with Francis, and I could not be happier. So many details, so many people coming to see him. I’ll be part of the Philadelphia audience for Pope Francis’ first ever visit to the US!

IMG_0057I’ll be on the road with one of my favorite globe-trotters, and good friend, Lisa Hendey. I know she’ll be in high demand, media maven that she is, and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two. Look for her tweets and mine, and follow us on Facebook. I’m not yet on Instagram and Periscope but Lisa is! And be sure to follow and use the hashtags #goodiswinning #PopeIsHope #PopeinPhilly and #PopeInUS.

We’re looking forward to interviewing people about this experience as well! And writing it about of course. I hope to get some good Espresso for Among Women!

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The WMF’s theme is “Love is Our Mission.” Spend the $10 on this book that is about 100 pages and breaks out this mission. It’s wonderful.

Want to know more about World Meeting of Families, go here. Read about its themes here. 

It all started with the World Meeting of Families that was scheduled to meet in Philadelphia September 22-26. And then the Pope decided to join us too, and now there’s not just #PopeinPhilly, the Pope is coming to Washington DC to address Congress, and canonize Blessed Junipero Serra* at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — another saint for the Americas! — and visit the city of my birth, NEW YORK! Check out the papal schedule for the US.


Oh and that’s not all, before he flies to the US, Francis is making an important visit to Cuba. Here’s more on that from my friend, Maria Morera Johnson…For her, it’s a faith pilgrimage as well as a personal one.


*See my post about my pilgrimage to Blessed Serra’s mission and grave with Lisa Hendey.