Ave Explores: Mary, an In-Depth Look at our Mother

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Ave Explores

Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.

“So many people feel faith is something you do only on Sunday when you attend Mass. Ave Explores will help you see your faith as something you can live every day.”

That’s why Katie Prejean McGrady is excited to spearhead this second installment of Ave Explores, a multimedia project from Ave Maria Press that includes articles, videos, podcasts, social media exclusives, and resources for classrooms and parishes  This 5-week program will focus on the role of the Virgin Mary in the life of the Catholic Church. It is free and you can sign up today. Week by week you’ll receive an email with videos, podcasts, articles, and links to resources for small group discussions, classroom assignments, and even prayer challenges.

Just reading about Ave Explores had me interested, but I still wanted to hear more from Katie about her heart and what gets her excited about you (and me too!) diving into the life of our Blessed Mother.

Katie Prejean McGrady

Author Katie Prejean McGrady

I always like to know about the person behind the project, so tell me about yourself and how you came to be part of Ave Explores.

I’m a speaker and author living in Lake Charles, Louisiana with my husband, Tommy, and our 2-year-old daughter, Rose. I travel about 125,000 miles a year speaking at various events, and I consider the airport my office. Back in March of 2018, I was sent by the USCCB to Rome to attend the Pre-Synod gathering of young adults, which prepared for the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment in October of 2018. While the Synod was going on, we ran our first “Ave Explores” series, taking a look at all the information coming out of the Synod and unpacking it for those who wanted to stay up to date with everything happening, but didn’t necessarily know where to begin.

It was a great success, and we got a lot of great feedback about how this sort of content was exactly what people were looking for, so we decided to expand the initiative and take on a few more topics this coming year.

As you just explained, the first topic in the Ave Explores series was timely. The Blessed Mother is timeless, but what made you choose to go in this direction for the second installment?

I feel like certain saints kind of “choose you” for different seasons of life. While I was teaching freshmen theology from 2012 to 2017, St. Thomas Aquinas just kept popping up in my life. I’d randomly see statues of him in churches, or someone would have a relic or he’d be referenced in conversation, just out of the blue. He was everywhere. Then, when I was pregnant with my daughter, Rose, St. Rose of Lima and St. Thérèse of Lisieux were just everywhere in my life, which was perfect: those are her two patron saints, and they wanted to make sure I never forgot it. And in the past year, that’s what Mary’s been doing to me.

I was asked to give 3 talks on Mary in early 2019, and talks on Mary are not necessarily what I’m known for. Then my husband and I decided to make a daily Rosary a priority in our prayer life together, and it’s been such a blessing for the two of us and our family. So when we were brainstorming topics for Ave Explores, it just made logical sense to think about whether or not we could find away to unpack and explore why Mary is important and how she can accompany us in our journey to heaven. She’s so much more than just a woman on a holy card, and the influence and impact she can have on our lives is one that can be understated, so why not help people learn about that, learn to pray with her, and make her a central part of their spiritual lives?

So give us the basics — how does it work? Do people sign up and then get different forms of media sent to their inbox? How many weeks is it?

So it’s as easy as can be! People can simply submit their email address, and for 5 weeks, beginning in October, an email will come week by week with videos, podcasts, articles, and links to resources for small group discussions, classroom assignments, and even prayer challenges. There’s no real “work” on your end other than giving us your email, liking the Ave Maria Press social media pages, and then sitting back and receiving excellent, high quality, well written, impactful content. The sign-up form is live on the website now. Click right here!

Do you have a specific week or program that you think is really going to inspire people?

One of the weeks, we’re going to take a look at all the different Marian apparitions and feast days, and the podcast episode that week will be a quiz style show that will be a lot of fun to listen in on. We’ll also have a series of articles exploring the influence Mary has on our lives as women and then also look at St. Joseph, and the model he is for men, and then tie that all in with how Mary and Joseph and the holy family are a model and example for our own families. I’m really excited about that week because folks writing are going to share both their own expertise and insights, but also talk about their personal spiritualities and how Mary has personally impacted their lives.

Do you have a favorite Marian feast day? If so, which one?

I did the Marian Consecration back in 2014, and my consecration day is March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The feast took on a whole new meaning in my life, though, when I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Rose, in December of 2017. All the emotions of finding out you’re expecting: the excitement, the immediate worry, the joy in getting to tell people, the fear that things could go wrong, the desire to instantly plan (while also knowing that you’ll never be able to control it all). It’s just a lot. And as I was going through all of that in my own pregnancy, I kept thinking back to what it must have been like for Mary, the day she said yes to giving birth to Jesus. Did she go through all that too? I would imagine so. Did she worry? Probably. Was she excited? Most definitely. Did she want to prep and plan and control? I bet so. So the feast of the Annunciation just took on a whole new level for meaning for me.

You geared the first Ave Explores to youth ministry leaders — who are you most hoping will subscribe this time around?

Honestly, everyone. The Catholic who thinks they know it all and the Catholic who thinks they know nothing, and everyone in between. I want folks who maybe have questions or doubts about Mary to join in and I want folks who have a Marian shrine in every room in their house! We’ve given Ave Explores a bit of a tagline: Faith in the every day. And that’s who this will most benefit – the everyday Catholic who wants to go deeper, explore topics with open hearts and minds, who are willing to learn and grow, willing to be surprised and excited, willing to go one step further in their spiritual life. That’s who we want – you!

Here’s your chance to be self-indulgent: What topic would you like to cover next?

So we’ve got the whole year of mapped out already, and I’m super excited for them all, and the people we’re bringing on board to contribute are just phenomenal. So folks will just have to subscribe to find out what those are! But, for the following year, I’d really love to tackle the sacraments, exploring why they’re not just “things we do” but literally efficacious experiences of the grace of God.

Learn more about Ave Explores Mary

Enjoy my interview with Katie Prejean McGrady on the Perhaps This is the Moment podcast.

So I asked Katie all the questions, now I have one for you:

Can you think of a better way to spend your time than getting to know Mary on a new and deeper level?

Me neither. I just signed up. Here’s the link so you can too!

Sign up for the FREE Ave Explores Mary emails: text AVE to 33233 or visit the Ave Explores signup page.

Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.


Copyright 2019 Abby Watts

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About Author

Abby Brundage Watts is a mother of two little boys. Since January of 2008 she has hosted The Big, Big House Morning Show on Spirit FM 90.5, the radio ministry of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida. The show mixes inspiration, humor and family fun (and great music of course)! You can hear Abby every weekday 6-10am, EST and online at www.myspiritfm.com. She also is the co-creator of the podcast, Perhaps This Is the Moment. You can find it on all the podcast platforms.

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