I’m a Roman Catholic who has lived in Cleveland, Ohio, except for one year. Where I grew up I could walk to twelve churches, each a different nationality. I am Slovenian and Polish. As a child I dreamed of being a teacher. In the seventh grade, the desire to be a teaching sister was born in me. Right after my 18th birthday I joined the Sisters of Notre Dame, an international community whose primary ministry is education. (See www.sndchardon.org.) Before most of us sisters returned to our baptismal names, I was known as Sister Mary Kirene, a name derived from the chi-rho, a symbol for Christ. My feast day is Christ the King. Notre Dames have some form of Mary in our names, reflecting our devotion to Our Lady.
I attended Hodge School until the seventh grade. Yes, I was a public school kid. Then I went to St. Francis School for two years and to Notre Dame Academy for high school. I hold a BA degree from Notre Dame College of Ohio and have served as president of its Alumni Association. My MA degree is in secondary education (English) from the University of Minnesota. Since then I’ve taken courses at St. Mary’s Seminary and attended numerous lectures and workshops.
I’ve taught in Catholic schools and CCD programs. I’ve held Bible study courses for parishes and diocesan religion courses for catechists. For three years I served as vocation director (recruiter) for my community and for the Diocese of Cleveland. Most recently, I’ve been the director of the Parish School of Religion at St. Dominic Parish in Shaker Heights. Currently I’m an honorary member of the parish staff at St. Dominic’s. To my delight writing is now my full-time occupation.
In 1979, I began writing for publication while teaching religion and English at Regina High School. At the prompting of another Sister, I submitted a paper on religious life for publication. The paper was a requirement of a retreat. “The Joy No One Can Take from Us” appeared in Review for Religious. Bitten by the writing bug, I corrected students’ papers on Friday night and planned the next week’s lessons on Saturday. This left Sunday free to write. I rose at 6:00 a.m. to spend as much time as possible writing articles. Several of these were published in magazines and journals, including one in the Sunday Magazine of Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Encouragement came from many sources. After reading my article in Review for Religious, a bishop in Nigeria sent me an airmail letter in which he quoted Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “Write, for if your writing should make anyone more aware of God and their neighbor, then you must write.”
My writing hobby blossomed into a full-time ministry when I was assigned for two years to the team writing a Benziger high school religion series. Later I became general editor of my community’s Loyola elementary school religion series Christ Our Life and saw it through three revisions over a span of 13 years. I also was editor and author for a children’s version of the Little Rock Scripture Study published by Liturgical Press. For two years I wrote a column in Religion Teacher’s Journal. Other religion series I wrote for were Ave Maria Press’s and St. Mary Press’s high school series and the Maronite elementary school series, Faith of the Mountain. Beyond this writing, I’ve had more than seventy books published. Also annually I write eight homilies and sets of intercessions for FAITH Catholic Publishing of the Lansing Diocese. My first novel, a historical romance, was published in 2013: The Fisherman’s Wife: The Gospel According to St. Peter’s Spouse. It has its own website at www.facebook.com/St. PetersSpouse
Occasionally I speak at national and diocesan conventions and give workshops and retreats. In fact, my first book was the result of the first time I spoke in public. It was at the NCEA convention in Anaheim. After putting so much work into the talk “Twenty-Six Ways to Lead Students into Scripture,” I decided to give it a longer life by turning it into 26 chapters, which Twenty-Third Publications published as Leading Students into Scripture. This book published in 1987 is still alive as Leading Young Catholics into Scripture. A surprising invitation to speak came from the United Arab Emirates. In 2010 and 2011, I was a featured speaker at a two-day conference there for catechists from six Arab countries. In 2014, I spoke speak in Dubai and in Oman.
I enjoy reading, naturally, playing the piano, and crocheting baby blankets for my community’s annual Barbeque and Boutique the last two Sundays in September.
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