Monica Pope. Teaching the Faith, Tackling Different Approaches for Different Situations to Cross the Final Goal!

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Monica Pope, mother of ten children, has devoted her life to raising her children and catechizing hundreds of people. Mother Assumpta sat down with her to talk about her different catechesis ministries and get the inside scoop on some of her latest projects.

Mother Assumpta: 

We are truly blessed today to have a wonderful woman with us. I think that she’s a multitasker because I cannot believe all she’s done, particularly as a catechist for 30 years, but the most important thing is that she’s a mom of 10. How did you manage all of that? 

Monica Pope: 

It’s not a contest, and I get by with maybe less sleep than others. My family would definitely tell you other things.

Mother Assumpta

What put it in your heart to get into catechesis? 

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Monica Pope: 

My whole ministry can be summed up in one sentence and that is: tell the best story better. My mom was a catechist at heart and didn’t know it. Listening to the difference between the way she would tell us about the Lord and the way I was hearing it in a classroom [influenced me]. It was always much more alive, fervent, urgent, trusting, and loving [with my mom]. 

Mother Assumpta: 

That is a wonderful tribute to your mom. She must be so proud of you. 

Monica Pope: 

She is very supportive. I was a wayward teen and gave her a hard time and caused her a lot of pain. My mother has said to me more than once in my adult life that she always knew Jesus was going to do great things in me. 

Mother Assumpta: 

What a wonderful thing for your children. This is your grandma. How did you get into St. Thomas?

Monica Pope: 

I was Director of Catechesis for nine years at St. Thomas. It was great. Almost every day that I was there, I said I had the best job.

Mother Assumpta: 

That is great. Also, which is remarkable, I read someplace that you catechize young children and the elderly. How does it work? 

Monica Pope: 

I think some of the most vibrant ministry that the Lord has ever asked me to do for Him is not the programs. It’s people who come to me and ask for things. “Can you talk to me about why is it that you believe what you believe in?” I have a not difficult time accompanying people who are unconventional.

Mother Assumpta: 

It seems like you do the whole gamut.

Monica Pope: 

At St. Thomas, we had a family program. We had people bringing their toddlers to be catechized. We had an Atrium, and grandmothers and grandfathers would also come to class with the families. It was a great privilege. 

Mother Assumpta: 

You know children. It’s amazing because I taught first grade for years, and their little minds are so close to the Lord. Listen to them. You also do things with special needs children?

Monica Pope: 

It is the absolute joy of my life. I’ve tried to start programs that didn’t get started. What has always happened is that people will come to me and invite me into the process with them, and so I asked a lot of questions of moms and dads and family members and then of the person with the developmental disability himself or herself. I read people very well, and for every person it’s different. I’ll share a story of Calvin. He was22 years old, nonverbal, very autistic. I said to his mom, “How does Calvin learn best?” She said, “He loves pictures and music.” We sat at my desk, and I showed him pictures of Jesus, and we listened to beautiful praise and worship music. When he was baptized, people could see that he was receiving the Lord. He never said a word to me. There was one moment when Calvin was sort of rocking back and forth, and he kept putting his head on my computer screen, and I said, “Calvin, I’m going to ask your mom because I’m not sure how to understand that.” She said, “He is very happy.” I thought, “This is my best yet.” 

Mother Assumpta: 

I work with Cardinal O’Connor in New York with the Sisters of Life, and he had a great love for special needs children, and he had a special program for confirmation. I was privileged to go to a confirmation where he confirmed them. I remember it being so emotional that they would go up and hug him, and you could tell that he had connected, but it was more than that. He had connected them with the Lord it and it did was always just beautiful. What are you doing every day? 

Monica Pope: 

My boss, Fr. Dave Speicher, asked me yesterday about this writing. I said, “It’s in my head,” and there’s always something being written. I’ve written every single day since I was 11 years old. Words are important. God has gifted me. At times, I can feel an anointing. We’ll sit down and write something.

Mother Assumpta: 

What do you mean writings? What’s the newest book called? 

Monica Pope: 

There’s a couple of things, but the newest thing is a book called Rescue: a 12-step Bible Study. I was in a church one day, and it was almost like I had a memory that I’m going to write a 12-step Bible study, and four months later it was done. The Bible says go from one step to the study of the scripture attached to each of the steps and some reflection material. I met all summer long with a group of people in every different recovery group: Alcoholics Anonymous and heroin addicts and people in Adult Children of Alcoholics. We all got together because it didn’t matter what the struggle was. We went through the whole Bible study together. I thought if I never did another work, that was it. It was an honor and a privilege. My husband is awesome. How does any of this happened? Because I’ve got this amazing, phenomenal husband qho does some beautiful ministry on his own like jail ministry, but his ministry is us together, raising our children and helping me to do ministry. 

Mother Assumpta: 

How are your children coming along?

Monica Pope: 

I’ve always been careful. I’ve learned in the past 15 years or so to be careful to not raise children that are missionary kids, or that I expect my children to look a particular way because that’s not fair to them. My two oldest are adults. They were a hard time. They’re far away from the Lord, and therefore away from their family, and it’s very sad. The rest of them are so different and awesomely cool and funny and prayerful kids. 

Mother Assumpta:

How many are still home in the house? 

Monica Pope: 

There are three still home: my 18-year-old, my almost 16, and my 12-year-old daughter. Some people say it seems almost empty and that’s the least you’ve ever had at home. The most I’ve ever had at home at any one time is eight. We’ve never had all ten of them because they range in age from thirty-eight to twelve. I’m following in your footsteps. I’m interested in genetics. I have two married daughters. My older married daughter, Heidi, homeschools and does a lot of catechesis at home. I think she’s interested in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. My daughter Bernadette is at DeSales University, pursuing a career in writing. She’s a good writer. Many of my other children have talents that they didn’t get from me. 

Mother Assumpta: 

That is wonderful that you’ve got a supportive husband, and he says you have been devoted to this. Not only that, but you are a student now. You have had a fruitful and wonderful life, and we can’t thank you enough. What a beautiful woman to have in the Church. When the Catechism of the Catholic Church came out, how did you respond to that? 

Monica Pope:

I threw myself on it. I loved it.I have prayed and read the Catechism. I don’t think I’ve missed a day since 1996. I just keep writing it over and over every day: read the Catechism. It was theanswer when we had come to this time where it was hard to know. There’s so much conflict over the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Early on, I was in a situation where I thought the teaching was not true, and I went to a priest, and I had the Catechism in my hand, and I said, “It’s not what this says.” That poor man. He took it out of my hands, put it on the table, and said, “This is not for you.” I said, “It is too. Give it back.” It’s a little defiance there. He didn’t understand. It was new. It looked like a real powder keg. That was winters ago. Last year, I had the privilege of going to Austria and went to a lecture by Schoenberg. We talked about the catechism. It was something that we all needed at that moment in history where everything seemed up for grabs. It came exactly when we needed it.

Mother Assumpta: 

Keep up your wonderful work spreading the good news. I want to be at the pearly gate when you come in because I’m sure our Lord is going to bless you for spreading His word. Thank you.


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