Colleen Carroll Campbell, journalist and television host of EWTN’s “Faith & Culture,” spoke with me about her new book My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, which she said she hopes acts as “a gateway drug” for readers to the saints.
The book also provides a window into one Catholic student’s experience at a Catholic university, where the environment was typical of many Catholic colleges today. How Campbell learned from that experience and found the example of the saints (hint: not in theology class) will be of interest to Campus Notes readers.
Matt Archbold: This book literally begins with you on a ledge. It’s unclear to you at that moment where your life is going. You were lost in college. Tell us a little about your experience in college and how you drifted away from your faith. And how reading about the saints brought you back to the faith.
Colleen Carroll Campbell: My college years were filled with a lot of striving – for success, for pleasure, for popularity. On the outside, everything looked great. I was embracing the party lifestyle with gusto while still excelling in school and in my budding journalism career. I even managed to get to Mass each Sunday and toe the line on what I considered the really big rules of my Catholic faith.
But as I recount in the opening scene of My Sisters the Saints – in which I’m perched on the windowsill of my college apartment, surveying the detritus of the campus party scene and battling both a hangover and a nagging sense of inner emptiness – all my superficial striving had led me to a spiritual dead end. I felt bored, restless and lost. And I had a sneaking suspicion that my dissatisfaction was connected to the casual, compartmentalized way I had been practicing my Catholic faith since leaving home for college. That realization launched the 15-year spiritual search that I chronicle in My Sisters the Saints.
In that search, it was the women saints who served as my models and guides. I had not expected that to happen. Like many Catholics, I initially thought the saints were too old-fashioned and goody-two-shoes to speak to my contemporary concerns. But beginning with a biography of St. Teresa of Avila that my father gave me during Christmas break of my senior year in college, the stories of the great women saints proved me wrong. Their lives and writings spoke to my deepest longings, helped me navigate my toughest trials and led me to rethink nearly everything I thought I knew about what it means to be a liberated woman.
Or you can just go buy Colleen’s great new book by clicking here.