Melanie can’t stop writing—or talking—about the women saints and how they can help us on our faith journeys today! She uses stories of the saints, our sisters in faith, to help people grow in their spiritual lives. Some of these saints are familiar—Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Bernadette of Lourdes, Elizabeth Ann Seton—while others are not so well known—Maria Karlowska, Claudine Thevenet, Josephine Bakhita, Chiara Badano. They come from different places and different times, creating an intimate portrait of the universal Church.
She is the author of two books on women saints: Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith (Franciscan Media, 2015), which illustrates how our saints lived the Beatitudes and what we can learn from them, and Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration (Franciscan Media, 2013), a page-a-day gift book that illumines how our female saints and blesseds can resonate with today's busy women. She also is a co-author of When They Come Home: Ways to Welcome Returning Catholics (Twenty-third Publications, 2009). This guide helps parish leaders establish programs to assist those considering a return to the Church. It's a ministry that's close to Melanie's heart, as she was away from the Church for more than thirty years and returned to full communion on Christmas Day, 2005.
She also is a regular contributor to Living Faith, and has written for Catholic Update and the Sisters of Mercy's Viva! Mercy magazine. She is a contributor to Your Daily Tripod, a Catholic blog, and also blogs weekly at her Web site about women saints and about questions frequently asked by those considering a return to the Church.
Melanie has spoken to Catholic women's groups as large as 1,600 and as intimate as ten. Among the groups she's been blessed to address are the San Antonio Catholic Women's Conference and the National Council of Catholic Women (breakout session) national conference. She's also appeared on a variety of Catholic radio and television programs. Her presentations and retreats can be tailored to meet your needs, ranging from twenty minutes to three days.
Thanks to the expertise she gained during her five years as editor of Writer's Digest magazine, Melanie also is a popular writers' conference speaker, having presented on a variety of topics more than 100 gatherings.
Melanie is a native of South Dakota and received a bachelor's degree in journalism, French, and political science from South Dakota State University. She spent most of her adult life in Chicago, and also has lived in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.
- Rejoice and Be Glad! The Beatitudes are beautiful and simple in concept… but so hard to live. Learn what the Catholic women saints—some well known, some you may not have heard of—can teach us today about living Jesus’s challenges set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.
- Your Life with the Saints… and How to Become One. They prayed, they laughed, they cried, they got angry. Some traveled thousands of miles for Christ; others never left their hometowns. Some had deaths only satan could have orchestrated; others died peacefully in their sleep. In other words, our Church’s saints were people very much like we are today! We’ll look at our own gifts and the ways in which we are called to be saints to others.
- Living on a Prayer: How's your prayer life going? Need an infusion of new energy... or introspection? "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart ... a cry of recognition and love, of embracing both trial and joy," Therese of Lisieux wrote. We'll talk about the origins of our Church's formal prayers, and learn more about the lives of those who helped define our styles of prayer. Participants will have the opportunity to experience communal and individual, mental and vocal, form and spontaneous prayers. We'll also talk about making time for prayer and what to do when the well has run dry. Written guides and journals will be provided.
- When They Come Home: Ways to Welcome Returning Catholics. The Church needs the gifts and talents of each of us to help bring the Kingdom of God to this world. In this spirit, parish leaders and adult faith formation and religious education ministers are invited to reach out to the inactive Catholics in their midst. This reaching out means sharing their gifts and talents with those who have drifted away and are now searching for renewed faith and involvement. It also involves helping returning Catholics recognize how their own gifts and talents can build up and complete the parish.
No Fear in Love, A Time of Contemplation and Healing. We all desire to be loved, and yet we find it so difficult at times to love and be loved by others. Sessions focus on loving others--our families, our neighbors, our immediate community, and the world at large, using Scripture, other teachings and group discussion; loving ourselves, including meditation and journaling time; and accepting God's overpowering love for all of us, and what he asks in return.