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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Words of Wisdom from One Mother to Another
An interview with speaker and author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.

Donna Marie with her books
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, speaker and author.

July 17, 2009. New Milford, CT. Raising five children would make for a full “job” for any mother.  But that is just the beginning for Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, whose special calling is to share her wisdom with other women – as one mother to another.

Her resume of experience would make even the most seasoned workaholic’s head spin.  In addition to being a wife and mother, she is an award winning journalist and internationally known bestselling author with 8 books, two of which were published by the Legion´s publishing house, Circle Press. She has received apostolic blessings from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, as well as commendations from various bishops and cardinals. She was also blessed with a personal friendship with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Donna-Marie is featured on regular national Catholic radio segments called "Mom´s Corner" through “Catholic Connection” with radio host Teresa Tomeo.  She also has been profiled on several Catholic radio programs and television programs, and she travels the country to speak about prayer, motherhood, family and women’s issues.

The following is an interview Donna Marie granted for our Regnum Christi web site.

Q- You have a multi-faceted ministry (speaking, books, blogs, a radio show) aimed at a specific audience: mothers. When did you first feel called to help other mothers live out their vocation to the full?

Just before my first book was ready to be released, a priest asked me if I would speak at his parish at a Day of Recollection.  As he was asking me, it was as if a light went off and I suddenly knew that this is what I would be doing. I had never planned on it, but God had His plan.  Blessed Teresa of Calcutta had continually encouraged me to keep writing to help mothers, women, and families. 

The ministry to these groups seemed to have been born with the publishing of my first book, Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers.  It was a great surprise to me that the book, when it was released, went immediately to the Catholic bestsellers list.  I then started speaking to various parishes and dioceses as I was invited to do so, and also did book signings.  Even at the secular bookstores, I saw God at work within the conversations of the people and in the requests I received for prayers.

Q- You have written 8 books so far, and many of them have received honors and awards, including an apostolic blessing by Pope John Paul II. How did you first realize that you could share your experiences and insights specifically through writing?

I have 6 published books and 2 more to be released this year.  My book about Mother Teresa published through Circle
book signing
At a book-signing event at Barnes & Noble.
may be called, "Mother Teresa and Me: A Ten Year Friendship" will be released in late August or early September.  My book, "The Heart of Catholicism" published by Alpha/Penguin will be released late this year or very early next year.

To answer your question about when I might have realized my ability to share insights through writing, it occurred to me early in life, I believe.  I remember my fourth grade teacher holding up a little book that I had created and boasting about it to the class.  I was embarrassed that he singled me out to commend me on my writing and illustration, but perhaps that is when it started.  As I grew, I wrote in a journal as a teen and expressed myself through words and art.  Later I would speak on life issues, in favor of life, of course.  I wrote a lot of Op-ed pieces, and then started to write articles for newspapers and magazines.

Q- Your books have been endorsed by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who also wrote the foreword to Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers to Be. Can you tell us more about how you developed a personal friendship with her? 

I am deeply honored and blessed to have known Blessed Teresa the way I did.  In the foreword, the things she wrote are meant for everyone, not just me.  And I feel the blessings that our dear Lord has bestowed upon me are for everyone.

I knew Blessed Teresa for about ten
with son joseph
Mother Teresa holds Joseph Cooper O'Boyle, her son.
years.  I met with her on more than a dozen occasions and spoke with her on the phone and received 22 letters from her.  She prayed me through two precarious pregnancies and lots more.  I recount our friendship in my book about her, which is due to be released in September.

Q- What was it like to meet her?

It was amazing! She radiated peace and love. 

Q- What is the single most powerful lesson that you have learned from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta?
Well, I´d say there are at least three that are terribly important.  One is that love begins at home.  Secondly, we don´t have to run off to Calcutta to take care of the poor because they are in our midst.  They may not be hungry for a piece of bread, but they are hungry for love.  Thirdly, one person´s "Yes" to God - yours or mine - can truly help to transform the world!

Q- You were invited to participate in the Holy See’s International Congress, “Woman and Man: The ‘Humanum in Its Entirety’” in February of 2008.  What was your role there?

My role at this International Congress was to absorb all that I could from the presenters, the people there, from the whole experience.  Then I was to bring it back to the States to encourage others to read and study the Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, and to set up retreats, studies, workshops and more to raise awareness of the wealth of richness of this
at st peters
A calling at the service of women and of the Church.
and other documents of the Church.  I personally give a lot of talks and write articles on Mulieris Dignitatem. 

Q- What were your most important insights or resolutions after the congress?

Out of this Congress came my two books: Grace Cafe: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering and The Domestic Church Room by Room: A Mother´s Study Guide (both published by Circle Press).  Women are using these books to join in group studies and share their faith about their role as a woman and as a wife and mother.

Q- What do you most hope to offer women through your writings?

I hope to offer women encouragement, hope, and love.  I wish to impress upon them that they are not alone on this journey through life.  Sometimes it may be lonely when we are with those who don´t understand our faith or are difficult in various ways, but we need to reach out to one another because we are all on this journey together.   I have witnessed many women brought to tears when they realize that our Church loves them, that our Church reveres women and recognizes our struggles through the ages and that she commends women for being heroes to their families. I like to offer that hope, encouragement, love, and peace to women.

Q- What would you say are the three most important characteristics of the ideal mother?
That´s an interesting question.  I´d say that the ideal mother must first be full of love; be dedicated and faithful to the care of her family; and be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the family.

Q- Many mothers today feel like they are expected to be a “Supermom” who has it all together all the time. But everyone has struggles and crosses. What’s your recipe for tough times?

My recipe for
The original Supermom.
tough times would be to focus on the virtue of hope, to never give up, to turn immediately to prayer for help from above, and to offer every bit of the suffering and difficulty to God so that He can transform it into grace.  We should not ever waste our sufferings or squander them.   These can all be used for good. I talk about this a lot in my writings and I have a good deal about this in my book about Mother Teresa.  By God´s grace, we can begin to see everything that happens to us and around us as an opportunity for grace.  Patient endurance and prayer are the key.

You can contact Donna-Marie to schedule, talks, retreats, and events at her website or through her email,

Donna-Marie authors several blogs, all of which can be accessed through her web site. Her book list, also available through her web site, includes:

• Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company)
• The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home (The Crossroad Publishing Company)
• Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be (the Crossroad Publishing Company)
• Catholic Saints Prayer Book (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company)
• The Domestic Church: Room by Room, a mother’s study guide (Circle Press)
• Grace Café: Serving up Recipes for Faithful Mothering, (Circle Press)
• Mother Teresa and Me: A Ten Year Friendship (Circle Press)
• The Heart of Catholicism (Alpha/Penguin)



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