I have known Teresa Tomeo for almost four years and have watched the tremendous impact she has made in the Catholic world through her books, speaking, blogging and radio show. Teresa is clearly on fire for the Catholic Faith and you rarely leave a conversation with her not feeling inspired. With her newest book being released next week from Image Books, God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond, I reached out to Teresa for an interview and to catch up on her various projects.
Teresa, you have carved out a fascinating ministry in Catholic Media. You write, speak, blog, host a radio show… How did you wind up doing this work?
I spent years on camera and on radio in my hometown of Detroit. My secular broadcasting career was very successful on the professional level but it took a lot out of me spiritually and also almost cost me my marriage. It was a near crisis in my marriage that forced me to take a closer look at my Catholic faith. My husband and I slowly turned into Christmas and Easter Catholics. We were both doing very well in our work and figured we didn’t need any help from any one even God. Before we knew it we were distant from each other and realized we had to get back to basics with God at the center of our lives. Our journey back to each other and to Christ eventually led me to the Catholic media. The closer I got to Jesus the more I felt I didn’t belong in the secular media. That is why I wrote my latest book “God’s Bucket List.” We may have our desires or our bucket list items but what does God have to say about it? I don’t want people to make the same mistakes I did so I am hoping “God’s Bucket List” will help them in their own journey.
You often write about the influence of the secular media, especially on young people. What are the biggest threats to families today from the media and how can they overcome them?
Great question and as a matter of fact the American Academy of Pediatrics just put out another policy statement on media influence this week. They once again are calling for parents to restrict media usage in the home. The AAP says too much media consumption can lead to a long list of problems for children including sleep disorders, obesity, comprehension issues, and attention deficit disorders. And then there is the moral aspect where more and more young people are getting caught in sexting scandals as was the case recently in San Diego.
It’s so interesting that the Church has been calling for moderation and parental involvement for decades. I always love it when the secular world backs up Church teaching. The bottom line is excessive media in our lives can also drive a wedge in families. We need more face time and family time and less time in front of a screen.
In your recent book Noise, you write about the pervasive and negative influence of technology on our lives. What are steps we can take to “unplug” a bit?
NOISE was my first book but in a sense it is still new as we try to update it regularly and it is now in its third printing. The first step for families is to remove TV’s and computers from the bedrooms and keep media outlets in the central area of the home. Cell phones should be turned off once the family is together at night and not turned on again until the morning. Last but not least meal time should be media free so families can have more time engaging and connecting.
I know you have traveled extensively in the Holy Land. How have these travel experiences changed you?
These trips re-energize me; not that I need any more energy but they give me the shot in the arm that I need to speak, write, and do a daily radio show. I re-connect with the Church on a number of levels. I have a deeper appreciation of Scripture and Church Teaching and I get to be with people who are in love with the Lord and our Catholic faith. I have also made so many new friends; friends that are a regular part of my life now.
What advice do you have for Catholics travelling (or planning to travel) to the Holy Land in the near future? In addition to all of the unrest and persecution of Christians, do you have any other advice?
“Be not afraid.” I know you have heard that somewhere before. Don’t believe the secular media reports. The Holy Land is safer than most big American cities. Israel is tops when it comes to security but the religious sites are among the safest spots there. Don’t let fear keep you from walking in the footsteps of Jesus. I have been there nine times and never tire of returning. As long as you pay attention to your surroundings and stay with your group you will have the time of your life. The same advice for traveling anywhere holds in the Holy Land.
I do think we are winning battle after battle at the grass roots level. And in the end we know Christ wins the ultimate victory. Science is on our side and I feel that the development of new technology and more advance ultrasound photos have made a huge impact on the movement. But we have a long way to go and many hearts yet to touch.
You will be reporting live from Pope John Paul II’s Beatification at the Vatican soon. How did you get involved?
I will be attending and covering the canonization of John Paul the Second and John the 23rd. This trip will be part of an on-going series of pilgrimages that I host or co-host. I hope many people join us. They can find the brochure at my home page of www.teresatomeo.com
Teresa, one last question. You often speak to crowds of Catholic young people. How do you think we can reach them more effectively? What can we do to keep them in the Church?
There is an old Catholic hymn “they shall know we are Christians by our love.” I think we need to be really good holy and joyful examples. We have to help young people understand that everything they need is right here in the Church. The joy and love we express is key.
Teresa, as always, it is a pleasure to speak with you. Deacon Mike and I are so grateful for your time and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.
It is an honor to answer these questions and I am so grateful for your amazing ministry and look forward to more work with ICL.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was voted Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013. All of Randy Hain’s books can also be purchased at your local Catholic bookstore, Amazon or www.liguori.org.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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Thank you! – The Editors