Win Your Copy of The Catholics Next by Greg & Jennifer Willits

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One of my first encounters with Greg and Jennifer Willits involved a live radio interview – and a screeching child. The supercharged new evangelizers and hosts of The Catholic Next Door radio program, which shares the namesake of their new book, had graciously invited me on their show to talk about my book, Weightless.

We were in the middle of a lively discussion about body image when one of my children burst into the room making a sound that could be best described as the call of a howler monkey.

I apologized to Jennifer and Greg, and then we laughed together at the authenticity of the moment: An at-home mom and sometimes-writer attempting to do a radio interview when a life with littles in all its noisy glory interrupted.

As parents of five children and the founders of many apostolates like The Rosary Army and That Catholic Show, Jennifer and Greg know how to keep it real.

I recently had the pleasure of reading their new book, The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living. I also had the opportunity to chat with them about the book during a phone interview. (Interestingly, the interview also involved a few very real mommy moments for me. I apparently know how to keep it real, too.)

What I always take away from a conversation with Jennifer and Greg, their writing, and other work is a healthy dose of humility, a sprinkling of wit and humor, and a whole lot of faith.

During our interview Greg said that the couple thinks living their Catholic faith is fun. And it shows. We laughed plenty during our phone call conversation. Likewise, their book uses real-life anecdotes and humor to reveal how all Catholics are called to seek God’s will and to use their many imperfect moments as a perhaps unexpected path to perfection.

But the book is more than just a compilation of funny stories told through the point-of-view of both Jennifer and Greg. In fact, Greg joked with me during our interview that they wanted to write something more than just a personal memoir because “a Willits memoir would be boring.” I seriously doubt that, but Greg and Jennifer do a great job of combining wisdom from the Church such as quotes from the Catechism, everyday experiences, as well as practical notes. An example of the latter: Greg shares a Catholic website that offers movie reviews from a moral perspective to help parents make wise entertainment choices for their families in Chapter 12: Here We Are Now; Entertain Us.

I personally love books that share stories and glimpses into the lives of other Catholics. Greg and Jennifer do this so well both on the written page and in various new media. During our chat Jennifer shared how she had a strong desire to teach her children about Adoration. Along with her desire, however, was a harrowing fear that her children would disturb everyone and make Adoration an anything but peaceful experience. “Not all of my children had mastered the art of self-control,” she admitted.

Wisely, she armed her little ones religious books, and everything started out quite well. It was peaceful even. Then a child turned a page. Loudly. And another page. Then there was an even louder ripping sound of a piece of paper coupled with an exasperated sigh from Mom. Quickly, Jennifer’s prayers to Jesus started to be influenced by what was going on around her.

For me, this story was not only encouraging for any mom who is yearning to pass down the faith to her children but is often met with frustration and fights during family prayer time, but it was also a fitting microcosm for the vocation of motherhood.

As mothers, when we’re able to seek solitude, we may go to God with a specific prayer that might not initially have much to do with the children we serve; yet, somehow our prayers frequently return back to our husband, our children, our family. Maybe a child interrupts us, and we pray for the patience to handle the unpredictability of a life with children. Maybe we overhear a heated sibling squabble, and we pray for more peace in our home. Perhaps a baby wakes up unexpectedly, and we resign ourselves to make a prayer of the arms that comfort our little one. And so our thoughts, prayers, and actions shift and become very much entwined with this calling of ours.

Being a parent isn’t easy. But it’s a whole lot harder if we try to do it all on our own. Praying for ourselves, our children, our family, for grace and patience, and sometimes for our sanity should be as much a part of motherhood as diapers, PB&J sandwiches, and doling out teenage curfews. Greg and Jennifer get this. They don’t try to do anything – start a new apostolate, celebrate 15 years of marriage at the zoo, raise children – without God.

As a mom, one of my favorite chapters of the book is Chapter Six: My Kids Made a Mom Out of Me. Jennifer writes,

“While there were plenty of days when [my children]drove me a little crazy, more often than not they drove me to my knees in prayer. And that’s not a bad way for me to spend my life.”

Isn’t that the truth? (Although occasionally my children drive me really – not just a little – crazy.)

Motherhood is a call to holiness. It brings us to our knees. So does marriage. These are high callings, but Jennifer and Greg remind readers in their encouraging book that whatever your calling in life, if you allow God to take the lead, you’ll transform into the Catholic next door  – the person who inspires more than just raised eyebrows. You’ll be someone who inspires others to know, love, and follow Christ. Jennifer and Greg’s honesty and wisdom will help you to embrace your faith right where you are – even if, like me, you find yourself in a room unexpectedly covered with toddler graffiti (no wonder my little one was being so quiet!).

The Catholics Next Door is a reverent, humorous, and encouraging account of what it means to be Catholic. Catholic is not just an adjective that describes our religion; it’s a verb that reveals what we do and how we choose to live. Let their life, their words, their foibles inspire you to bring the faith to everyone you encounter.

From start to end,  The Catholics Next Door reveals that Greg and Jennifer have a sense of humor and a strong faith. It’s clear from both their writing and our recent conversation that they have learned to accept themselves and to enjoy each other as well as their children just as they are – because that’s exactly what God does.

Thanks to Greg and Jennifer Willits, the Maximus Group and their publisher St. Anthony Messenger Press, we are pleased to give you the chance to win one copy of The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living. To enter, leave a comment below by Friday, April 20th at midnight PT and one winner will be randomly selected.

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92 Comments

  1. Great article! Though I am not a mom I have been listening to the Willits’ podcasts and following Rosary Army since they first appeared on Life on the Rock on EWTN. Keep up the good work, Willitses!

  2. Jason Butler on

    I have been praying the Rosary (Rosary Army Podcasts) with the Willets for years now and am excited about their new projects.

    GO 4th!

  3. Thanks for sharing this article with us. I used to regularly listen to the Rosary Army Podcast, but have recently not been able to do. It’s great to hear about their new endeavors. I always liked how they kept things real.

  4. Maria Quinones on

    Wow!! Great title. Sometimes we are made to feel that being Catholic is some sort of ancient ritualist group. Although, as we continue to grow in our faith, we are finding younger and younger families joining and carrying responsibilities in the church once thought of as “old”.

  5. LIsa Hincapie on

    I love the Willits. I remember seeing them on Life on the Rock when they were promoting the Rosary Army!! Love them and excited to read their book.

  6. Would love to win this book–love reading about ‘real’ Catholic families who have the same struggles as I do!

  7. Looking forward to reading Greg’s & Jennifer’s new book “The Catholics Next Door”!! I’ve heard a lot of great reviews about it!

  8. I’m not much for listening to podcasts, but I have heard a few of theirs and know I would love the book!

  9. This sounds like a wonderful summer read! Would love to win a copy! Thanks for the opportunity & God bless your Easter Season!!!

  10. This book sounds like something I need right now, with 5 little ones myself I would love to hear the wisdom of another Cathoilc family. I would love to win a copy!

  11. Nikki LaGrange on

    The article was very enjoyable. I would love to win a copy of this book. I read a description of it on another site and it sounds like something I can really learn from. Thank you for a chance to win a copy.

  12. Cindy O'Connor on

    I love listening to The Catholics Next Door! I also got a slew of rosaries from their apostolate, Rosary Army a few months ago to send to our Navy troops. I would love to win their book!

  13. The thing I miss most about having Sirius/Xm in my truck is listening to Jennifer and Greg! Love. Love. Love! Their show!! They are so real. I want them to be MY neighbors!! 😉

  14. Love the Willits! I listen to them every afternoon on my way home from work! Great article! I have been meaning to order their book!

  15. Heather Olivier on

    I listen to the Willits family on my xm radio and enjoy hearing what they have to say. Please enter me in the contest. I would love to get a free copy to read!

  16. Cynthia Tamirez on

    I was born to a single mon who was a Seventh Day Adventist and converted to Catholicism before she married who I call my dad.

    I grew up Catholic and want my kids to share the same love of faith I had as a child. My dilemma is their father was also raised Catholic but is distanced now and refuses to have anything to do with church.

    I know I need to pray about it. Please pray for me also.

  17. I’d love to learn more about being a Catholic family, as my husband and I are expecting our first child in July.

  18. Laura Ouellette on

    Sounds like this book would be great for me. I am the busy mom of 9. There is never a dull moment around here. Especially when it comes to living our Faith. Just the sheer number of children gets the conversation going. The reaction always makes me laugh. I LOVE being Catholic!

  19. Laura Ouellette on

    I am the busy mom of 9. There is never a dull moment around here. Especially when it comes to living our Faith. Just the sheer number of children gets the conversation going. The reaction always makes me laugh. I LOVE being Catholic! And would love to read the Willits book.

  20. Selena Van Hout on

    Love TCND!!! Listen to them on XM. I have been wanting to read their book! Thanks for the opportunity to enter to win!

  21. Great article!! I absolutely love their show and everything they do!
    Being new to the faith( I was just received into the Church at our Easter Vigil) they make it more understandable and fun!
    Thank you for the chance to win their book!

  22. Dawn Dentzau on

    I would LOVE to win Greg’s and Jennifer’s new book. I have 3 children and they love to listen to the radio show about what their kids are going through being Catholic. We explain that being Catholic is sometimes very time consuming but VERY rewarding. So when they hear that the other kids are going through what are they want to hear what happens to them.
    I make the all twine rosarys and when I go to mass I will leave some in the pews for others if they need one or never had one before. My older son said well don’t the other Mommy’s make the rope rosary’s for their kids. My middle child said but if the other kids don’t have rosary’s how can Jesus and Mary protect them.
    So I thought this would be a Great book for all of us to read together for story time.

  23. Taress Williams on

    I would love to win a copy of this book to read. I am a Catholic Mom and have 3 girls (ages 10, 8, and 4).

  24. Barbara Berg on

    Thanks for sharing this information on the book and for introducing me to the Willits. I look forward to reading this book.

  25. Thanks for the review. I enjoy listening to Greg & Jennifer on the radio and enjoy when you are a guest on the program. Thanks for all you do.

  26. Been listening to Greg and Jennifer since the days of Rosary Army podcast. They are an inspiration for living a faith-filled Catholic life.

  27. I love the Catholics Next Door! I am discerning the priesthood and think it would be a great book to add to my collection. It would help me learn more about the family and family life and give me a different perspective of Catholicism.

  28. Caron Sheffield on

    HI! We would love to win a copy of Greg & Jennfer’s book!We would pass it on to our son and his wife who are expecting our first grandbaby in June! Little Emma would love to have her parents benefit from Greg & Jennifer’s wisdom and experiences!! Peace!

  29. As a new Catholic they are an inspiration to all trying to raise a Catholic family in today’s world. I would be honored to read a copy of their book.

  30. Thanks for introducing me to the Willits. I’m always looking for good new Catholic books to read. I’ll have to check out their radio show too. Peace.

  31. Great article. In all honesty I had not ever heard of Jennifer and Greg, but will see if I can find their radio program. It sounds like something I would both enjoy and gain from — as does this book. Thanks for introducing them and their book and also thanks for the contest.

  32. I would so love to win this book! After raising 5 kids and now having 5 grandkids I know it will be most affirming of my holy motherhood!

  33. I would love to win a copy of their book. I have been following them from the beginning. They are such a great example of a Catholic family!

  34. Gabriel Saucedo on

    Reading the article above gave me hope that my wife & I are not “crazy.” We have five children whom we try to raise with a good strong Catholic foundation. Because I’m the only one that works for a paycheck it limits our resources from a budgeting stand point and forces us to do without certain luxuries, cable being one of them. We have not been privledged to see the Willis’ on TV, but it would be great to read this book for the sake of our sanity and knowing we are on the right track. God Bless you for offering this opportunity to win a copy of this book!

  35. Greg and Jennifer were part of the inspiration for the Life on Fire podcast. Their lives and ministry have been an influence on many in Catholic media and I would love to win this book.

  36. Thanks for featuring these wonderful people. I have arranged my day to be in the car at the time that they are on. It has done wonders for my faith life and the book is definitely on my to read list!

  37. I love Greg and Jennifer, they truly have helped in my return to the Catholic church and my true embrace of my role as a mom and wife in this world of ours. Their show has been a unforeseen blessing in my life over the past year.

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