Mary, God’s Mother and Mine

Mary welcoming people to the Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon

It’s May, Mary’s month, and the month we celebrate Mother’s Day. The other day I was thinking about my relationship with our Blessed Mother. She has been woven all through the tapestry of my life. So this week’s blog is rather like a memoir.

I remember as a child I drew Mary over and over, the Immaculate Conception image of her, clothed in a blue mantle with pink roses at her feet. I tried to make her a beautiful as I could. I don’t think the face ever came out right. When I was in scary situations, I would pray Hail Marys.

In the sixth grade I was confirmed and took the name Marie as my confirmation name. Mary became my special patroness. In the seventh grade I found myself in a Catholic school for the first time and learned more about Mary. My eighth grade teacher recommended that I read the book Mary Was Her Life. Because I was interested in becoming a Sister of Notre Dame, she also gave me a copy of the congregation’s history, Their Quiet Tread, a thick book, which I outlined, believe it or not.

For high school I attended Notre Dame Academy, named for Our Lady. There I joined the Sodality as a sophomore. (That was an organization devoted to Mary.) In my senior year I became its Prefect (President) and during the summer sent “Soda-Notes” to the members.

At the end of our sophomore year the principal announced that our school was moving from Cleveland’s inner city to the country: Chardon’s hills and Black Angus cows. While I was taking my geometry exam, the assistant principal called me out to have my picture taken with the statue of Mary on the grounds of the Academy. So I appeared with Mary in the Catholic Universe Bulletin’s article about the move to Chardon. That statue was moved to Chardon too and stands facing Auburn Rd. and welcoming people to our provincial center. You can see it in the photo above.

I did join the Sisters of Notre Dame two weeks after my 18th birthday and am now known as Mary Kathleen. Our Blessed Mother brought the Word into the world. Most of my religious life has been dedicated to writing Words that bring people closer to him. Of course, I’ve written about Mary.

Mary in our Chardon SND chapel

My first Marian book was The Catholic’s Companion to Mary, (ACTA Publications) which is an overview of her life and has interesting tidbits in the margins. Next came Enriching Faith: Lessons, Prayers, and Activities on Mary (Twenty-Third Publications). Then, my favorite, Heart to Heart with Mary, which had a strange history. An editor at Ave Maria Press suggested I write that book with the title “Mary Calling.” Because the publisher of the book Jesus Calling would not give permission to use that title, Ave Maria Press withdrew the contract. This meant I could self-publish the book and write and format it just as I wished. On the cover I placed a photo of Mary’s statue in our chapel.

When I asked on Facebook for suggestions for a title for the book, the responses did not satisfy me. One night “Heart to Heart with Mary” crossed my mind, but I wasn’t sure about it. The next morning my cousin called from Massachusetts and said, “What about ‘Heart to Heart with Mary’?” Since then the book, with daily words from Mary, has touched many people’s lives in remarkable ways. On some days what Mary says corresponds to what the reader needs to hear.

Last week I finished writing another Marian book, one that is full of activities to get to know her better. Right now it is waiting to be published.

For years I’ve been speaking about Mary to various groups. It is one of my best received talks.

I look forward to meeting my heavenly mother face to face someday.

• What is your favorite prayer to Mary? Your favorite image of her?

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