Category Archives: Meet a Reader

Meet a Reader: Dana Garber

I’m excited to be able to feature one of the many young people from our diocese traveling to Madrid, Spain for World Youth Day next month.  You can read the Catholic Post article about the ISU group here.

How you know me:


I’m Dana Garber, a student at Illinois State University in Normal, and involved with the John Paul II Newman Center at ISU.  I am part of a group called “Witnesses to Love,” that recorded a song, “Planted,” for World Youth Day (WYD), and I will be one of a group of 29 students from the Newman Center attending WYD in Madrid next month.

Why I love reading:

I love to read because I love to learn. Learning and understanding more about God and our Faith helps me to grow as a believer and to love Him more.  I usually get recommendations from my friends or family.

What I’m reading now:  

I am reading Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist by Father John A. Kane.  This book has been really good because it explains the beauty and grace of the sacrament. I am also reading Benedict of Bavaria by Brennan Pursell.  I’m reading it so I have a better understanding of the Pope and his life before I see him in Madrid for World Youth Day.

My favorite book:

One of my favorite books is The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis.  This is more of a devotional book and is very rich.  It focuses on the interior, every-day life.  Another one of my favorite books is Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.  He was a French Monk in the 1600s.  This book is an easy, simple read.  It explains in practical terms how our lives are a constant prayer and how to live that out.  I also love all Scott Hahn books; the last one I read is Rome Sweet Home, which is one of my favorites.

Meet a Writer: Matt Pope

This month on the book page of the Catholic Post, I tried something a little different.  Instead of “Meet a Reader,” in which I interview a local reader, I featured two local writers, and why they love to write.  On the blog, there are not space considerations, so I’m able to feature the longer answers and my mini-reviews.


Today I’m featuring Matt Pope, author of a slim but beautifully inspiring poetry-novel called Emily’s Verse.  The book is a little hard to describe–it might sound strange, a novel in the form of poems–but Emily’s Verse is easy to read and quite moving, with a pro-life message that is well-done and powerful. 


 Enjoy!
 
Who: Matt Pope
How You Know Me: I work as a copy machine repair technician,  and write in my spare time. My wife Mandy, a teacher at Holy Cross school in Champaign, and I have two small children, and our family attends St. Patrick’s parish in Urbana.
Why I love writing;  I love writing because it gives me the opportunity to introduce potential readers to the pantheon of characters that are running around in my head.  As writers we see the world around us in a slightly different vein, we see potential characters and story lines.  This is the way of a writer and part of the reason why I love to write.  The other reason I love to write is because it is who I am as a person.  I have always been scribbling things down in notebooks for as long as I can remember.  No with the advent of the smart phone, my little notebook has been replaced, but the outcome is still the same.
My current book;  My current book is Emily’s Verse, a book in poem form about the full, rich, long  lifethat “could have been” of an aborted baby.
This book had been bouncing around in my head for the better part of 2 years.  I really put off writing, EV because I was working on other projects.  My hopes for this book would be that as young women read this book as possible.  I would be proud if this book saved the life of one baby, but I think that it has the potential to save many babies.
What I am Writing next:  Since I have a 2 and a 4 year old at home, my next project is a book of poetry for little kids.  Little rhythmical poems that make kids laugh, and introduce them to God at the same time.

Meet a Reader: Johnathan Steffen


There’s such a funny story to go with how I found this month’s reader.

 



 
The deadline for this month’s print Catholic Post book page fell during Holy Week (prompting many “Catholic” jokes between my editor and me), and I was really scrambling to get everything completed.  As usually happens, I seem to have some trouble lining up a person to be a “Meet a Reader,” and in my haste to finish my column, I had completely let it slip again.  I was at our diocese’s Chrism Mass, held on Tuesday of Holy Week at the lovely Cathedral of St. Mary, because my three children were among the students representing our Catholic school.  In front of our pew sat a group of young men, and they struck me as seminarians.  I thought during the Mass, I bet I can get one of these guys to be my “Meet a Reader.”  Turns out they were high school students (our family runs pretty short, and they were tall). 
 
But the idea of finding a seminarian for “Meet a Reader” had taken hold, so after the Mass I enlisted the help of a bolder-than-I, dear, and talented friend also at the Mass to help me find one.  She assured me she knew several, so we walked around the cathedral looking for a likely candidate.  We found the absolutely delightful young man featured here. 
 

 

Thanks, Johnathan, for being such a good sport and providing such thoughtful answers to the four Meet-A-Reader questions!  We will be praying for you as you prepare for ordination.
 



How you know me:  I am a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.  I have been in seminary for five years and am looking forward to being ordained to the transitional diaconate on Sunday, May 22, 2011, at the Cathedral.  Before entering seminary, I taught high school English for five years and practiced law for 4 years.

 

Why I love reading:  Mostly, I enjoy reading because I like watching what an author can do with words.  Without ever having seen the 19th century unsettled prairieland of the Midwest, Willa Cather in My Antonia can place that prairie with its scents and colors and sounds directly in my mind simply by arranging letters on a page.  James Joyce in Ulysses can expand a single day with his words in a novel that takes a couple weeks of sustained and deliberate reading.  Truman Capote, Nathaniel Hawthorne, A.S. Byatt, and hundreds more all have special gifts:  keen description, shrewd commentary, textured characters….  Books are just wonderful places for readers to hide in for a while, and then reappear in the real world hours later with a sort of secret knowledge. 

What I’m reading now:  Currently, I am making my way through the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction 7th ed., a compendium of shorter titles from the American and English literary canons.  Short fiction—or poetry—works well for me during the academic terms in seminary since I am frequently interrupted with other classroom projects and don’t always have the leisure for longer works.  So far, my favorite stories from the collection include “Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin;  “Death by Landscape,” by Margaret Atwood;  and “Heart of Darkness,” by Joseph Conrad.

My favorite book: I have never quite been able to convince myself of established criteria for determining what makes a novel a “good novel,” but if I find myself still thinking about the book, its characters or plot, months or even years after I’ve finished it, the story must have impressed me in some way.  


Of the novels I have physically laid down years ago but have never quite been able to put away from my own thoughts, two stand out:  Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet and Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham.  Jealousy is an experimental French novel that subordinates plot and character to the details of the world perceived through the obsessive mind of the jilted narrator.  Its genius is that while the author explores so thoroughly the theme of jealousy and goes so far as to name his entire work with the word, the story never once describes any emotion at all.  Of Human Bondage is a more conventional novel in form that introduces the reader to a main character who struggles with grinding poverty, finding his vocation, and resolving philosophical ideals, but ultimately finds that the most perfect patterns in life are often the simplest.

Meet a Reader: Father Don Roszkowski

How we know you:  I’ve been a priest of the diocese for nearly 14 years, and I’ve had a number of assignments, from Peoria to Clinton to Bloomington to Odell to my current post of pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Metamora, and St. Elizabeth, Washburn. 

Why I love reading:  As many people know about me, I have a form of dyslexia.  Throughout my school years, I worked hard at remedial classes, partially to prove wrong those people who thought I wouldn’t do well.  Because reading was so difficult at first, I have a great love for learning and reading and finding out about so many things. 

My favorite book:  I primarily like reading theology, and I especially enjoy Father Robert Barron’s writing style and his analogies.  Probably my favorite book of Barron’s is The Priority of Christ: A Postliberal Catholicism. Another classic I really love is Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ. 

What I’m reading now: Right now I’m reading two books.  One is what I call a “popcorn book,” an easy read with a short reflection for each day: Spirituality You Can Live With: Stronger Faith in 30 Days by Chris Padgett.  I’m also reading Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week. 

Meet a Reader: Sue Wozniak, R.N.

How you know me:  I retired this month as COO of OSF St. Francis Medical Center, after a long career in nursing and hospital administration.  My husband, Ken, and I are members of St. Vincent parish in Peoria, and we have five children and four grandchildren.
Why I love reading:  Reading reduces stress and can take you away to fantasy land.  For me, reading, especially biographies of famous leaders, helps me to understand how other people make decisions.  Reading history helps me learn about living in the past.  I just love to read.
What I’m reading now:  I just finished reading Decision Points by George H.W. Bush, and I’m currently working my way through The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
My favorite book: My all-time favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I also loved all the Cherry Ames mystery books (Cherry is a nurse) when I was a girl because I wanted to become a nurse, and I did!

Meet a Reader: Shannon Cardaronella

This month’s “Meet a Reader” is a wonderful woman I met several years back at the Peoria Diocese Summer Institute.    At a dinner for speakers & spouses (both our husbands were speakers that year), we talked the entire time about–I know you will be shocked to hear this—books!  This actually is quite surprising as we have kids of similar ages, and kids tends to be a default subject.  I knew she would be great to feature here, and I am so glad to be able to introduce another thoughtful “reader” to Catholic Post readers.  Thanks, Shannon.

How You Know Me:

You probably do not know me.  More people know my husband, Marc, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) at Holy Cross Parish in Champaign and the Regional DRE for Champaign/Danville.  I love Holy Cross!   Holy Cross is one of the loveliest churches I have every enjoyed, and it is our home parish.  If you are ever in Champaign, please come worship with us.  Consider yourself invited.  I also appreciate that our parish is a motley crew of folks from all walks of life.  Marc and I have two boys:  John Berchmans “JB”, 9 and David, 7.  I am a homeschool mom, and I love homeschooling also allows us to read, read, read!

Why I Love Reading:

I grew up surrounded by huge bookshelves filled to the brim and even cataloged.  My sister read to me all the time when I was very young.  My parents discussed their latest reads at the dinner table.  We read it all, from junky books to works that uplifted the mind.  We were curious about other people and places, other points of view, new ways of looking at the world.  Finally, my parents were not afraid of the world.  They both possessed an innate love of and trust in the world and people, always teaching me that most people are good and kind and want to help.  This trust allows me to go deeply into the world of the book I am reading.  There is something about losing oneself in a good book that can neither be adequately expressed nor replicated with other media.

My Favorite Book:

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  While Scarlett is the main character, it is Melanie who fascinates me.  Melanie is a beautiful Christ figure.  As a reader, I wince at Scarlett’s flaws: her insensitivity, selfishness and heartless conniving.  Melanie sees Scarlett’s perfections: her fortitude, intelligence, good horse sense and strength. The kicker is Melanie is right.  Scarlett — exactly who she is, with all of her flaws, because of who she is, with all of her flaws — saved herself, Tara, Melanie and the baby, Mammy & Prissy… her whole “tribe” if you will, against seemingly insurmountable odds.  Melanie is no doe-eyed ignorant optimist.  She accepts and embraces Scarlett and the world as they are.  This acceptance brings out the best in all, including even Rhett Butler and Belle Watling.

What I’m Reading Now:

Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.  Fr. Willard, our pastor at Holy Cross, gave a copy to every family at Christmas Mass.  Thank you, Fr. Willard!  There is a lot of “food for thought” in this one.  And since this is my very own copy, I can underline to my heart’s content.

Meet a Reader: Father Dominic Garramone, OSB

Meet a Reader:  Father Dominic Garramone, OSB
1.  How do we know you?
I could be known for any number of things!  I’m a 1979 grad of Spalding, a Benedictine priest of Saint Bede Abbey, religion teacher and drama director for Saint Bede Academy, TV baker on public television, cookbook author and children’s author.
2.  Why do you love reading? 
I used to love reading mostly because it transported me to other worlds and alternate realities—I’m a big fan of fantasy writers like Tolkien, Anne McAffrey, Patricia McKillip, etc.  But as I grow older and (one hopes) more mature, I especially appreciate that reading is such a reflective exercise—it promotes reflection, meditation, discussion.  You always have the luxury re-reading a paragraph or having recourse to a dictionary or reading it aloud to someone else in the room, or just saying to yourself: “Stop—I want to think about this for a minute.”
3.  What are you reading now?
Right now our monastery table reading is And There Was Light, the autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, blind hero of the French Resistance—absolutely gripping.  I’m reading Everyday Life of Medieval Travellers by Marjorie Rowling, as part of class prep for teaching church history.
4.  What is your favorite book, and why?
Apart from the Bible and the Rule of Saint Benedict, my favorite book is The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon.  No other book has influenced my cooking and my view of creation as much as this work—a great read for anyone who can see preparing food as a spiritual act and a share in God’s creative work.
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Note from your blog host:  This month’s “Meet a Reader” is also the author of both of this month’s featured books, Thursday Night Pizza and children’s book Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery.  I’ve always wanted to feature local authors here, and when the chance popped up I was delighted, and resolved to ask him to be our “Meet a Reader” this month, as well.

Thanks, Father Dominic, for being willing to be a part of this feature!

Meet a Reader: Sister Jacque Schroeder

Here is this month’s “Meet a Reader” feature.  I’m delighted Sister Jacque Schroeder agreed to share her reading loves with us.   Sister Jacque is well-known to more than generation of TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) and Cursillo attendees in the Peoria area.   I wrote about her lector skills here last week.  Thanks Sister Jacque!
Who: Sister Jacque Schroeder
How you know me:
I’m Sister Jacque Schroeder, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception since 1966.  I’m currently in Pastoral Care at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, but I’ve been privileged to serve our diocese in many ways.  I have been an elementary and junior high teacher & principal, spiritual director for the TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) and Cursillo Movements, and formation director of my Franciscan religious community, and a pastoral care worker in the Standing Rock Reservation in our sister Diocese of Rapid City, SD. Over the past 30 years I’ve also enjoyed been privileged to journey with many people in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreats.
Why I love reading:
My mother set the pattern when I was very small.  She read to us every night before bed – Bambi was my favorite.  I loved listening to her read because she made the story come alive in my mind as well as in my heart.  With such a superb example one would have thought that reading would come easily to me, which it did not.  I’m told that between 1st and 2nd grade I completely forgot how to read.  It apparently was not too traumatic since I don’t even remember it – I was far too interested in riding my bicycle and playing outside.  However, that event started another tradition in our home:  all of us (there were 6 children in our family) had to come in for an hour in the afternoon during the summers to read.  I mostly enjoyed books about horses and families while growing up.  In spite of this (and the speed reading courses in college) I remain to this day a painfully slow reader.

My favorite book(s) and why:
How does one choose a favorite book?  For me, it is not possible.  However, a book that is representative of my reading loves is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  As a children’s book, written as much or more for adults as children, it disarms the reader and allows him/her to go to the heart of reality.  It combines wonderful adventure with the intricacies of relationships among family and friends.  Most of all, it tells our Ancient and Primal Story – The Paschal Mystery – revealing the Goodness, Fierceness and Beauty of our GOD Who is Love.
For spiritual reading, probably my favorite book is the 16th century classic Abandonment to Divine Providence by  Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.,   I keep it with me, go to it often, and recommend it to anyone called to the ministry of spiritual direction –and, indeed anyone seeking to go to the heart of our journey with the Lord. The book is actually a collection of his letters to those he directed in the spiritual life.  Two scripture quotes come to mind that sum it up quite well:  “Do whatever He tells you.”  (John 2:5)  And “My food is to do the will of my Father.” (John 4:34)  A particularly helpful quote from his writings for me is “Perfection consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs.”  I continue to discover that my need to understand is about me, whereas my need to be obedient is about GOD.  The second brings far more Blessings, Grace and Peace into our lives.

What I’m reading now:
I just began reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  It is the real life accounting of a man (Mortenson) who stumbled into a Pakistani village in 1993, after failing in his attempt to climb the most difficult mountain peak in the world (K2).  The generosity and kindness of the villagers moved him to promise to return and build a school. This he did – and much more.  He began a humanitarian effort, enlisting the help of many people worldwide, from many walks of life, and began the Central Asia Institute to build schools in impoverished areas.  Over the next decade he built 55 schools – especially for girls.  I think that this book will make obvious the truth that, in the long view, books are a far more powerful agent for world peace than bombs can ever be and that the most powerful agent is, of course, true friendship.

Meet A Reader: Monsignor Richard Soseman

Following is the feature “Meet a Reader” that appears on the monthly book page in the print Catholic Post.  This month we feature Monsignor Richard Soseman.  He’s been a friend of our family for many, many years, and I’m so glad to learn more about his favorite books and why he’s a reader.  I think after reading his take on it, I’m ready to tackle Don Quioxote.  Anyone else with me?

Meet a Reader:  Monsignor Richard Soseman
How you know me:
 I’ve been a priest of the Diocese of Peoria since 1992; I was a Judicial Vicar for 12 years and Pastor of  St. Mary of the Woods Princeville for 10 years.  I’m now at Congregation for the Clergy, Vatican City.
I also serve as the Episcopal Delegate for the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Why I love reading:
When we were kids, bedtime was at 8, but we could read until 8:30. We also went to the Library Club Summers at the East Moline Public Library.
Sylvia Standaert, at St. Anne School, East Moline, (now Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy) was a real inspiration, and guided us in selecting books in First through Third Grades, so we could appreciate and understand the books we were ready to read. I remember being judged ready to read “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder and being very excited.
I come from a family of readers, from my Father, who loved Zane Grey as a teenager, and read often in his spare time, to my Mom who still enjoys a good novel, amidst quilting and visiting with her great grandchildren. My eldest brother read a lot of non-fiction, my older sisters preferred novels. My brother Gary’s favorite author was Homer. He reads a lot of novels, but there is almost always a volume of Plato or nonfiction on his reading table. So, I suppose I come by reading naturally.
What I’m reading now:
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables. We have to rediscover old classics, and I really enjoy 19th century novels.
Pope Benedict XVI: St. Paul the Apostle
Fulton J. Sheen: Old Errors and New Labels
Luigi Pirandello: Enrico IV (Play) I find fascinating Pirandello’s interest in examining the interplay between reality and fiction.
I also enjoy the mystery novels of Lawrence Block, whose flawed and sometimes criminal characters nonetheless follow a rigid moral code.
My favorite books:
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. A beautiful and exciting epic trilogy of medieval and Catholic Norway, Kristin Lavransdatter is the life of the heroine from youthful indiscretion to elderly reflection.
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales is possibly the best guide for development in the spiritual life ever written.   It’s so practical and full of examples. We say we love God. Don’t we want to learn all we can about Him through growth in the spiritual life?
El Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.  The first modern novel, Don Quixote is so chock full of fun, adventure, and literary technique that it is hard to put down. I first read parts of the novel at Alleman, and for a semester while studying my Masters at Marquette. It is said that a person should read this novel at least three times, as a youth, in middle age, and when elderly. Because of this, for years I gave Don Quixote to students at the High School Graduation. I hope they read it.
Book of Ruth from the Bible
Since I’m part of a large family, I have always enjoyed this story of family loyalty despite great difficulties. Beautiful, especially when Ruth says to Naomi: “whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” It’s such a great reminder of human loyalty and of God’s great love for His people.

Meet a Reader: Sylvia Standaert

Here’s August’s “Meet a Reader,”  the monthly feature that also appears on the Book Page of the Catholic Post.
If you have a suggestion of someone that would be a good subject for a future “Meet a Reader” column, please leave a comment!
Who:  Sylvia Standaert, librarian, Our Lady of Grace Academy (formerly St. Anne School), East Moline
I was born with Cerebral Palsy but because of my parents’ dedication and my determination and tenacity, it has never deterred me from reaching my goals.  I have worked in a Pre-school-8th grade school library (Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy formerly St. Anne School) for 43 years.  The kids keep me going.  I have two older brothers, Gene and Jim, and enjoy their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  My hobbies include collecting Longaberger baskets, reading, shopping and travel.  I have visited 46 states and 14 countries.
Why do you love reading?
I have read voraciously since the first day I could read.  It might have stemmed from the fact that it was something I could do despite my handicap, but I can’t imagine being without a book.  Books can take you anyplace you want to go, and make you feel like you are part of the characters’ lives.   Books can teach you anything you want to learn about any subject imaginable.
What is your favorite book? 
My favorite book is The Bears Visit the Library, a book I wrote and my niece/godchild Michele illustrated. (Michele is an artist in Arizona).  The Bears Visit the Library is based on a program I do each year with the kindergarten class at our school.  When we started the kindergarten at the school, I thought using my extensive collection of teddy bears could be a great way to relay the importance of reading and using the library to a group of very inquisitive five-year-olds.   I usually start my bear curriculum in January, about the time the kindergarten teacher is doing something with polar bears.   As the school year progresses, brown bears appear, as do holiday, gardening and sports bears.
What are you currently reading? Mysteries are my favorite genre.   I just finished a Charlotte LaRue Mystery “Death Tidies Up by Barbara Coley.  Charlotte has a maid service and keeps finding dead bodies in unusual places.  I love the Abby and Ophelia mystery series by Shirley Damsgaard, including the latest in the series, “The Seventh Witch.”  Ophelia is a small town librarian, and she and her grandmother Abby have some very “magickal” powers.   Other favorite authors include Joanne Fluke, Mary Higgins Clark, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts and John Grisham.