I’m a freelance writer outside Washington, D.C., my lifelong home, with my husband Kevin and our three little ones. I write mostly on topics of faith, community, family life and technology (in varying combinations).

Charleston Diocese aims to bring organization to spiritual direction ministry

Nancy Stroud had been faithful to personal prayer for years. But at a certain point, the Charleston, South Carolina resident told The Pillar, she felt a need for accompaniment in her journey of faith.

So Stroud began to consider spiritual direction.

Spiritual direction pairs a trained, prayerful individual — the spiritual director — with the interested directee. Through one-on-one sessions, typically at monthly intervals, the director supports the directee in understanding where God is working

Cincinnati priests compete to meet parishioners in home blessing challenge

Among the sometimes daunting tasks facing newly ordained priests is that of getting to know a church full of unfamiliar faces.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s newest shepherds have found a way to bring a spirit of fun to their efforts: The priests ordained in 2022 are competing with those ordained in 2023 to see who can bless the most parishioners’ houses during the Easter season.

House blessings include praying for the home and its occupants, reading from Scripture and sprinkling holy water.

Catholic school tuition is a barrier for many families. Can ‘hybrid’ homeschooling help?

Independent Catholic school “hybrid” programs straddle the line between homeschool and traditional diocesan schools, featuring in-person, formal instruction and independent study days. But though these programs typically emerge from the homeschool movement, their affordability is beginning to attract a new demographic.

St. John Bosco School, a hybrid 7th through 12th grade program located in Sterling, Va., opened in 2019 with a group of 20 homeschooled students. Today, it serves 80 students, ab

Finding God in Our Hearts

But whether we have small children or not, most of us can probably relate. There are always more bills to pay, more dishes to clean, more errands to run. Silence, and even prayer, can feel like luxuries for which we don’t have time or space.

Given all the chaos, we can be tempted to consider that the prayer-filled life of a contemplative saint is out of our reach. This is especially true when we think about those saints who lived a cloistered life. Surely they don’t have anything to offer those

Women’s health meets Theology of the Body at Illinois parish event for teens

The Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality is predicated upon the idea that the human body is good.

But in a culture where the phrase “reproductive health” is often synonymous with contraception and abortion advocacy, it can be hard for parents to find educational resources about the human body and sexuality which reflect a Catholic viewpoint.

Two parishioners at St. Mary Mokena parish in Mokena, Illinois wanted to help change that.

Last month, the parish hosted a “Girl Talk” event for pre-t

This Lent, let yourself be bored

In his short story “Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut describes a future dystopia that takes extreme measures to make everyone equal in every way. The United States Handicapper General ensures that exceptionally beautiful people, for example, wear ugly masks. Strong people must wear heavy bags that limit their agility.

And perhaps most poignant to the modern reader: Intelligent people wear ear radios that blast sounds every 20 seconds to disrupt their thoughts. Vonnegut published the story in 1

In LA, Gardens of Healing help abuse survivors reconnect with the Church

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles last month dedicated a new “Garden of Healing” at LA’s St. Bernadette Catholic Church.

The garden is dedicated to victim-survivors of sexual abuse. It aims to be a safe space to offer some measure of peace and healing, as well as acknowledge the failures of the Church to prevent and adequately respond to abuse perpetrated by its priests, staff and volunteers.

St. Bernadette’s garden is the fourth of five planned gardens to open across the archdiocese; auxiliary B

Warming shelter at Wisconsin parish builds bonds of trust, community

On Tuesday mornings, Laurie Pollack leads a group of men and women in a Bible study. Together they pray through a Scripture passage, offer their personal reflections, and share where God is working in their lives.

In many ways, the Bible study may seem unremarkable – a mirror of countless similar groups across the country.

But there is one striking difference. Apart from Pollack and two other parishioners from her Oshkosh, Wisconsin parish, the attendees are homeless.

Pollack is the coordinat

Parish-based ‘Mary’s Closet’ fills a gap in local social services

When newcomers to Mary’s Closet first arrive, they’re often surprised. That’s because the space — which houses clothing, baby items, household products and more for families in need — feels more like a little shop than a typical social services facility.

“We really, really wanted it to feel like a fun little boutique, like a place where you can have some dignity in picking out the things that you want,” Tanya Singh, who began the ministry, told The Pillar.

Mary’s Closet is an outreach of St. P

‘Spiritual support groups’ create space for Catholics with mental illness

More than one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. One in 25 lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or major depression.

For Deacon Ed Shoener, these statistics are more than mere numbers. In 2016, his daughter Katie died by suicide, after a long struggle with bipolar disorder.

Shoener penned an obituary that honored his daughter and exhorted their small Scranton, Pennsylvania community to support those struggling with a mental illness. To his surprise, t

Tenn. Catholics find ‘tsunami of generosity’ in parish 'Buy Nothing' group

Part of a thriving parish community is the parishioners’ sense of responsibility for one another’s material and spiritual needs.

But in many parishes, there are few clear avenues either for parishioners to ask for help or to offer assistance.

At Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica in Chattanooga, Tennessee, however, a parish “Buy Nothing” group offers a tangible way for parishioners to support each other.

The Buy Nothing Project is a global (secular) movement of local gift economies begun by friends

At Oklahoma parishes, date nights help foster ‘Marriage in His Image’

Getting married in the Catholic Church typically comes with a significant amount of preparation, designed to help couples as they enter into a lifelong sacramental union.

Couples are often required to meet with a priest or deacon, fill out a lengthy questionnaire intended to identify strength and weaknesses in their relationship, and attend marriage prep classes or retreats.

But support and enrichment opportunities for married couples in the Church are less plentiful after the wedding.

And on

‘Household’ gatherings offer intentional community at South Bend parish

America is facing a crisis of loneliness. With nationwide declines in social connectivity, even the U.S. surgeon general is concerned about the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” facing Americans.

And Catholics are not exempt from the crisis.

But parishioners at St. Thérèse Little Flower in South Bend, Indiana, might just have a parish-based approach to address the epidemic of loneliness.

The parish has launched a program of “households” – intentional communities of a few dozen people who

At small Ohio parish, evangelization starts with a candle

When Lina Simms first read about the global prayer movement Nightfever, she thought, “Wow, that’s really cool.”

But then she thought to herself, “Our parish could not do something like that.”

Sprung from World Youth Day 2005 in Germany, Nightfever is a movement of young Catholics sharing God’s love with others through evenings of prayer.

Like many youth-oriented church events, a Nightfever evening includes Mass, adoration, and music. Priests are available for confession or counsel.

But it al

Children’s adoration offers young families a chance for prayer, community

It’s no secret that bringing young children to church can be challenging.

Pope Francis once said that “It is a beautiful homily when a child cries in church.” But for many parents, the experience of watching over noisy, inattentive children at Mass is anything but prayerful.

In fact, it can be downright overwhelming and discouraging, particularly when parents fear they are disrupting those around them - and feel judged for their kids’ behavior.

The expectation of silence and stillness is even

20 years after his death, Mister Rogers still offers a model for authenticity in a digital age

It is hard to talk about Mister Rogers without creating a caricature. The cynic regards his goodness as a bit saccharine, a childish dream ill-suited to the ugliness of life. The devotee puts him on a pedestal of untouchable greatness. Either way, we are inclined to put distance between our own lives and his, wary of the example that he set and what it might mean for our own call to virtue. He was a worthy steward of the early childhood years, perhaps, but it is easy to feel that he had little t

“Providence Rises Before the Sun”

The sheer magnitude of human suffering is overwhelming—not to mention that our mainstream culture and political landscape are rife with animosity and division over what the biggest issues are and how best to address them.

It’s enough to make a Christian wonder, “What can I possibly do to help?”

How do we make sense of our responsibilities to a world in pain? How do we know where to focus our efforts? And how can we trust that what we do will even have any impact? As we consider and pray about

Flexible Catholic workplaces aren’t just good for parents. They’re also good for the church.

“She’s becoming cuter and cuter, but…she’s continually at my side, and it’s difficult for me to work. So to make up for lost time, I work on my lace until ten o’clock at night and wake up at five o’clock in the morning.”

Replace “work on my lace” with “catch up on work emails,” and this note could have been written by any number of modern-day parents. In reality, however, it was penned in 1874—by St. Zélie Martin about her flourishing lace business and the then 18-month-old St. Thérèse of Lisie

All Shall Be Well

Mine looked a lot like other parents of young children. Without preschool and my parents’ help with our kids, my husband and I floundered as we tried to manage our responsibilities at work and home. Rest was elusive; frustrations ran high. And even as the chaos in our house felt unmanageable, the world outside our front door was in still greater distress. Amid disastrous news updates and the infinite stretch of uncertainty that lay ahead, I felt hopeless. How long would God let the world suffer,

When Ordinary Motherhood Feels Extraordinarily Hard

Let me begin by introducing you to a woman I call “Laid-Back Mom.”

Laid-Back Mom finds motherhood easy, breezy, and fun. She exudes confidence and authority; she greets tantrums, potty training, and ear infections with stoic calm. She isn’t the slightest bit stressed about navigating the grocery store with little ones in tow (and she’d never let said groceries rot in the fridge at a later date). She is, above all, a natural at the whole motherhood gig. She’s got this, and she’s even enjoying it

Finding Relief from Perfectionism

Verily exists to empower women to be more of who they are. We’re proud to deliver most of our content, like the following article, for free. Consider supporting our mission by joining us at Verily Yours. Your membership gives you exclusive content and supports our publication, including our efforts to develop a print magazine. Join here.

Years ago I may have written that sentence with a hidden note of pride, intending it to mean, “I simply have higher standards than everyone else,” or, “I do my

Instagram and the Illusion of Intimacy

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was sure that once my son was born, I would rarely have time for mindless internet scrolling. Of my many false ideations of motherhood, one was that it would be relatively screen-free: my attention would never wander from the beautiful child in my care, the superficial entertainments of my iPhone rendered dull in comparison.

Of course, I spent more time than ever on my phone after my son was born, especially in those early nursing-round-the-clock days.

Reimagining Friendship from a Pandemic Perspective

Whenever the topic of friendship arises, I always remember two blog posts I once read.

They were written by Tim Urban of Wait But Why, a rare internet treasure that combines humor, insight, and witty diagrams. These particular pieces dive into types of friendships and the human lifespan, and among other things, offer two observations I can’t stop thinking about:

One: Most of the time that we will spend with our friends in our lives happens by the time we’re out of high school and college.


Giving Up Her Place

Maybe that’s why the story of an Irish teenager named Clare Crockett so appeals to me. She too found that God’s plans for her life far exceeded her own. As a young woman whose call to religious life derailed a budding acting career, she ultimately discovered the joy of responding to the grace of ongoing conversion—a grace that God gives to each of us.

An Aspiring Actress. Born in Northern Ireland in 1982, Clare grew up in an era when the political significance of her Catholic identity carried m
Load More