Bittersweet Mother’s Day? Four inspiring, healing stories.


Mother’s Day is sweet, but also bittersweet for many of us: those who have lost a mother, or who have lost a child, or who desire to be a mother but aren’t mothers yet — or those who may never be physical mothers.

I am in one of those categories, and Mother’s Day is in some ways a trial for me.  So, I thought I’d share some fitting, hopeful stories that have inspired me:

1. A Mother’s Tattoo

Linda Padgett has lost 5 children to miscarriage. She tells the story of how her tattoo helped her heal in an unexpected way:

…it was a cleansing, healing cry.  Everyone in that room understood that.  There was no judgment or shame passed on to me.  They all knew that great healing can come from such an act.

Read the story on her blog, and see the beautiful art she wears 24/7.

2. Hear Moms Share Their Heartfelt Stories of Healing

In response to the question, “Why are you Catholic?” and “Why do you follow Christ?”, Greg and Jennifer Willits shared a profoundly moving story about how prayer helped them through Jennifer’s difficulty nursing their son.  Listen to episode 81 of The Catholics Next Door to hear it.

Not long ago, Katherine and Mac Barron responded to one of their listeners’ questions about how to deal with grief resulting from miscarriage, and shared their own personal experience.  Listen on episode 292 of Catholic In A Small Town.

3. Blind Mom ‘Sees’ Her Ultrasound

Technology can do great things these days.  Check out this lovely, true story presented by Huggies.

How to get FREE resources for your parish – this week!


If you’re like me, you’ve worked behind-the-scenes in parishes and apostolates for a long time, and you want your parish catechetical / evangelization materials to be…

  • Low cost
  • Strong Catholic teaching
  • Easy to understand
  • Intriguing / interesting
  • Outstanding, professional quality
  • Easy to implement

You have a right to be so demanding.

Word on Fire agrees, and has granted your wishes… all of them!  This week only — in celebration of their CATHOLICISM project becoming the most-watched Catholic documentary in history — Word on Fire Catholic Ministries is giving away TONS of their best DVDs, books, and study guides.

How to get free stuff this week

Each day, Word on Fire will give away different materials.  Today (Monday), it’s 100 copies of the CATHOLICISM DVD!  Simply go to daily to enter giveaways and see special video clips.  Be sure to “Like” Word on Fire’s Facebook to stay updated.

Future promotions

I believe so strongly in Word on Fire that starting this special, celebratory week, I have partnered with them to continue providing you with exclusive news and resources in the future.  Subscribe to Inspired Angela so you don’t miss out!


Free resources – and fun with Star Wars priest Fr. Roderick – TGIF!

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Hey friends,

Just because I love you and it’s Friday, enjoy some fun & free stuff.  You’ll get more throughout the week on my Facebook page – Inspired Angela!

530 free geometric background images (Thanks, Design Shock!)

List of free awesome stock photo sites (Thanks, NuSchool!)

Pexels: Free super stock video clips

100 free fonts (Thanks, Web Designer Depot!)

Super fun: Father Roderick Vonhögen, the original GeekPriest, recorded himself watching the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.  It’s going viral via BuzzFeed, YouTube, and Facebook!

For more fun with Father: Check out his podcasts “Secrets of Star Wars“, “The Break“, and others on  (Yes, he really is that much fun in real life.)

Me in Jedi training with Father Roderick

UPDATE – New resources added: Priests’ video messages for teens


I’m so glad that my white-collared friends have been promoting yesterday’s post about the video project for teens that we put together for last weekend.  A few more resources to share:

Fr. Kyle Schnippel has made his video available for public viewing:


If want something longer than the short videos I’ve been sharing, check out Fr. Rob Galea’s “My Story” mini-documentary.  This is what we had originally planned to use, but decided to go for a more personal touch. Father Rob also covers topics that aren’t discussed in the other videos, like how he prays and his vocation story.

Priests to teens: “What I want you to know about priests”


So last week, I did something a little crazy: I asked priests for a favor…the week before Holy Week.

And whaddaya know, they answered!

My husband and I were tasked with leading our parish youth program’s presentation about the Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders and Matrimony.  To create a ‘hook’, I asked several priest friends of ours to record a short video message for the teens:

  • Length: 30 seconds – 2 minutes
  • Introduce yourself.
  • What’s one thing you want teens to know about priests/priesthood?

I gave them my email address and a hard deadline, and asked for their prayers whether they could record a video or not.

Thanks be to God, we received videos from 6 priests — 2 from our Archdiocese, 3 from other cities in the U.S., and 1 in Canada.  I compiled the videos in iMovie, and we played the final product before our presentation about Holy Orders.

It was well-received; the teens were glued to the screen.  Why?  Well, one major reason is because these priests took time out of their busy lives to record personal video messages for them!

One of the standout entries was this video from Father Chris Decker, which he’s made public on the Catholic Underground Facebook page.

Another was this one by Father Darryl Millette, which he’s now published on YouTube.


Check them out — and share with your teens!  I encourage you to consider this project with your youth group, especially if…

  • …you’re focusing on vocations, but you just can’t seem to schedule a religious or clergy to speak during your meeting.
  • …you want to expose your teens to priests / religious other than those whom they already know from your parish community.
  • …you don’t have many clergy / religious living in your community.

Practical notes: I heard back from about half of the men I contacted.  (There were also 2 deacons in the mix.)  Remember: This was only 1 week notice, and a busy week liturgically.  The other videos I’m not sharing here were recorded using smartphones or computers; nothing fancy.  What’s important is the message and the clear care that each priest has for his intended audience.

If you’re interested in this video concept, check out another simple video project I did for our youth leaders.

Infinite thanks to the clergy who prayed for this project and those who recorded videos.

“Little Known” People & Projects You Should Know

Edmund Mitchell and I chatted Tuesday night. It was fun! I felt a little bit old. (I used Tamagotchi in an example. Give me a break… I had a full day of work.) Somehow, we hit some deep points.

I promised Mr. Mitchell that I would “blog this”; projects and people that I enjoy and you should know — since I couldn’t commit to picking just one when he asked me.

APOSTOLATE: Dr. Mark Hickman – Vasectomy Reversals

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BLOG: Anthony Baratta – Evangelical to Catholic

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PODCAST: The Sports Fathers

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BOOK: Peregrine: Poems by Paul Soupiset

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WEBSITE: Reverb Culture !!!

Those are a few!

Dear Catholic Communicators: Do Your Work Better.


If your church website doesn’t work, you’ve obviously gotta fix it…

…but have you ever seen a faith-based organization or church use the same templates year after year — not only for websites, but for the bulletin, administrative documents, and even internal processes within parish groups, programs and event planning? Have you noticed that, even though some improvements are needed, no change is made because “we’ve always done it that way,” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

The Problem

My experience working with dozens of Catholic organizations has informed the following opinion: Many people working in Church circles want to see improvements in communication, participation, and loyalty, but few people challenge themselves to improve an existing item, process, or structure.

Maybe Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations isn’t a perfect teaching text for these situations, but I’ve had many conversations with Catholics who are also frustrated about this phenomenon, and our conversations often include this point: Within ministry environments, the lack of perceived 1.) personal gain, or 2.) competition, tends to lead to…

  • little to no discussion about current pro’s and con’s
  • little to no consultation of professionals or leaders from outside the community
  • little to no research of other parishes / apostolates for inspiration and ideas

The general exceptions to these trends are capitol campaigns and major fundraisers. Why? There is obvious financial gain on the line and clear competition for that gain.

However distasteful it may seem to consider that parishes and apostolates are, in fact, competing for people’s attention, participation, and loyalty, the fact remains: The third-largest religious group in the United States is “Former Catholics.” One in three people were raised Catholic, yet fewer than one-fourth still describe themselves as Catholic.

Former Catholics

Are we not competing?

“Competition” may have negative connotations — including ill will toward one’s competitor, an unhealthy desperation, dishonest / immoral conduct, etc. — but Saint Paul taught that we should live our faith with such dedication, that we “run so as to win” (1 Cor. 9:24).

How could we settle, then, for “the way it’s always been done,” or “we’re getting by”?

We shouldn’t; it’s downright unbiblical.

A Solution

Imagine my twenty-year-old self, nervously sitting across from the Creative Partner at an advertising agency near downtown San Antonio. I’d applied for an internship with nearly every agency in town, and this one had been the first to respond.

After a few questions about my personal background and experience, I started to relax. Then, my interviewer asked me, “Who are some artists, graphic designers, or ad agencies that inspire you?”

My brain went blank. Stunned silence.

I’d been trapped in a bubble. Mostly self-taught and primarily interested in Catholic communications, I had never researched commercial marketing, influential graphic designers, or branding campaigns.

Although I was accepted, one of the first lessons my mentor taught me was the importance of researching other successful professionals and projects. I was tasked with creating a competitor analysis chart, comparing our advertising firm to others in our area and the nation.

Dear fellow Catholic communicators, most of us live in a ministry bubble. Most of the people you work with are probably fans of yours, and praise most of what you do — especially if you’re the only graphic designer / desktop publishing pro / video editor / photographer / webmaster / etc., in your organization.

You are in a dangerous situation. Your ministry bubble is contributing to your own high opinion of your work. You aren’t challenging yourself enough. You aren’t comparing your work to other churches’ projects. You aren’t comparing it to what church-goers see in their ‘normal lives’ (at the office, at the mall, on TV, online). Your skill set is falling behind the times, because your technology is ancient, and you’re smugly dealing with it. You have no one to challenge you.

We must rise to a higher level. Here are 5 ways I challenge myself to aim higher:

  1. Subscribe to news websites, blogs, or online journals in your field (outside of faith-based circles). Read them. Find webinars in your field (outside of faith-based circles). Take them. Learn from lectures & podcasts in your field (outside of faith-based circles). Get the picture? Learn from people who are competing to be the best at what you do.
  2. Before starting a project, look for similar examples in your field (outside of faith-based circles). Take notes. What makes each one successful? Behance is one of my favorite places to do this.
  3. Draft several different versions of one project.
  4. Apply your new knowledge and awareness of your field: Critique your own work. Then, let other (knowledgeable) people critique it.
  5. Let time test your work: Anticipate your projects as much as possible, so you can wait a day or two (or more) before deciding on a winner.

Run so as to win.

Tools for Communicators – Learn About and Use Color Effectively


Do you know the science behind color? Did you know that certain colors have certain effects on the human brain? Did you know that there are lots of free resources for color education, inspiration and usage?

You will become a more effective communicator when you know how to properly put color to use. Check out the following links, and let me know what resources you have to share!

By the way, my favorite color is RED. What’s yours? – Angela


PANTONE – If you don’t know this word, I highly recommend you take a graphic design course pronto! (Or watch Karen excitedly explain.) Follow these color experts on social media for the latest color news: Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram

Graphic Design Tutorial: Basic colour palettes (Video) – Graphic designer Shawn Berry gives a crash course on the color wheel, RGB, CMYK, and how to work with color in 11:40 minutes

The Effect of Color (Video) – PBS Digital Studios gives you the scoop on color theory in 7:29 minutes

DOs and DON’T of Colour” – Summary of color temperatures, psychology, undertones, and use

I firmly believe in keeping reference tools nearby, and utilizing them often. My desk at work is stocked with magazines for inspiration, and my bulletin board has two posters about color:

  1. Color Wheel & Quick Reference – Similar to this one
  2. Color Psychology Chart


ColourLovers – Color palettes….tons of ’em


The Day’s Color – Originally a daily site, but great archive of inspiring color schemes


Colorgorize the Web – Get color inspiration from this curated collection of website designs, categorized by color


Creation: – Interactive color scheme creator


 Kuler – Color scheme designer by Adobe


Inspiring Parish Bulletins – Pt. 4: Bulletins & Stewardship

Adding Curb Appeal: January "call to stewardship" bulletin cover is an actual word game!

Max Colas was once a senior marketing executive for a global company. Back then, he sang in his parish choir at Sts. Peter & Paul in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The parish began preparing a strategic plan to boost stewardship (generous giving of time, talent, and treasure among parishioners), and the staff needed some way to develop greater understanding of ‘stewardship’.

Max recalls their dilemma: “Stewardship is often poorly understood in a consumer society, so (the parish) needed to convey a clear message to our parishioners through a series of articles, reflections, events and homilies.” He suggested making better use of the parish bulletin.

“What made the bulletin particularly relevant to the stewardship message was its recurring nature,” he says. “We knew that becoming stewards would take time, and incremental steps would be achieved, so we needed a recurring outlet that could accompany that transition.

“Even though parishioners cannot always attend Mass, all registered parishioners receive the bulletin by email. If they read it, (the bulletin) would help build a continuous momentum” toward strengthening stewardship, Max explains.

Exercising his own stewardship muscles, Max offered his marketing expertise to improve the bulletin.

Here’s how he did it:

1. Get Parishioners to Take the Bulletin Home

“The first challenge, as one pastor recently put it,” Max explains, “was to add some curb appeal to the publication.” He switched from the original Microsoft Publisher platform to Adobe Creative Suite, added photos of parish life, and infographics.

Adding Curb Appeal: January “call to stewardship” bulletin cover is an actual word game!

Adding Curb Appeal: January "call to stewardship" bulletin cover is an actual word game!


2. Make the Content Relevant

“Beyond the regular stream of announcements from the ministries, other parishes and the Archdiocese of Newark,” says Max, “we started creating contents internally and sourcing relevant materials.”

For example: Parish staff members with theological training contribute interesting articles about topics of faith, book reviews, or Scripture reflections. The parish pastor reviews the content, and contributes his own column.

This weekend’s Gospel reflection (Peter as Rock) becomes more relevant when framed in a modern-day situation (hiring / job application) and more interesting with a headline, 3 columns, bullet points:


3. Engage Parishioners in Stewardship Goals

A. Use the bulletin to explain and expand on stewardship in general, and stewardship initiatives in particular
B. Provide regular updates on how those initiatives are being implemented; facilitating regular transparency and accountability

Real-life example:

When the parish needed to begin a construction project, it launched the fundraising campaign with a video. During the following months, the bulletin featured explanations of the new space, the architectural plans, the funding progress, etc.

Max says these bulletin items were key to building stewardship: “By reporting in detail and regularly on this project, parishioners felt involved, and many got involved financially or through their technical expertise. Then we could report on the electrical setup, fire alarms, painting, furnishing, the well-attended inauguration and then on how we were using it.

“That’s transparent reporting to the stakeholders, and I think that providing a regular, almost systematic forum for that accountability is a very valuable asset of the bulletin.”

Weekly bulletins also include a financial stewardship infographic:


End Goal: Building Up the Parish toward Evangelization

Today, Max is Director of Marketing and Communications at his parish. For him, stewardship is not an end, but a means to the ultimate end:

“One of the biggest challenges of stewardship,” he observes, “is to make parishioners own the parish, but if they feel it is their parish, then they get engaged, and stewardship happens. The bulletin provides that recurring window of visibility, accountability and call to responsibility, and that’s how the parish gets strengthened.

“Now that our bulletin is read, we have a more effective channel to support our mission and stewardship. Often, parishioners pick up a few copies of the bulletin to share with friends, which helps us evangelize.”

There you have it: Invest in your bulletin, engage your parishioners, build up your parish, and your parish can become a stronger source of evangelization.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on parish bulletins! Has there been a particular “part” in the series that you felt was most beneficial to you? Please let me know in the comments, or on I’m always open to hearing what inspires you!

Many thanks to all the personnel at the various featured parishes who so generously shared their knowledge and experience; you made this series inspiring. – Angela