Today, I’m thrilled — just THRILLED — to share the first part of a conversation I had recently with Pat Gohn. Pat is an inspiration to me for many reasons. But maybe what most touches me about the example Pat sets for me, and for other women, is her smile. Before you go thinking that I’m superficial, I want you to listen to her podcast and see if you don’t hear her smile in it. I want you to listen to her words of wisdom — which are also the foundation for her columns at both and Catholic Exchange’s Today’s Catholic Woman — and see if you don’t walk away changed, even just a bit. See if you don’t find yourself smiling.

Tell us a little about yourself, Pat. Greetings, fellow Catholic Ponderers! Thanks to Sarah for letting me visit here on the blog! I’m married to Bob now for almost 27 years now… we have three children together, Bobby, 21, Katie, 19, and Peter, 16. That equals two college tuitions and one Catholic high school. I’ve long been a stay-at-home mom, but in recent years have worked part-time in church ministry as well as going to graduate school to earn my Masters in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. (Too bad I didn’t know Sarah back when I was studying out there in the summers! We woulda had some fun!) Anyway, I’m just out of school one year.

I’m also a writer, and a podcaster, and have designs on getting back into teaching adult religious education fulltime as soon as the economy improves and I can find a new job! For more about me and my work, go to Other tidbits: I grew up in New York, mostly on Long Island, but have been living in Massachusetts since 1994. I love to read, walk, play guitar, write music, travel to new places, and go out to dinner! My favorite foods are coffee, wine, ice cream, and dark chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

In one of your recent podcasts, you mentioned that you went back for your master’s degree in theology after your children were grown. That struck home with me, as I have young children now but also have the desire for more education/learning. Can you tell us a little about what inspired that move?
Well, that’s a long story, but I’ll try to give you the “Reader’s Digest” version. Back in my 20s I started a Masters but never completed it… call it ‘life interuptus.’ So, the idea of going back danced around in the back of my brain off and on. I was a voracious reader on all things Catholic, and learned quite a bit on my own in the years before The Catechism of the Catholic Church came out in English in 1994. However, it 1996, I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer… (booo hiss…) and so, I never really made any future plans for my life after that…. but then my cancer was treated, (Yah God!!! and those great docs! Woo hoo!) and I’m still here, so I guess God had some kind of plan he wanted me to follow.

Some time after the cancer experience, in 1998, I was given the opportunity to go on pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. It was there that the dream to go back to school was born in me again. It took me a few years to discern which program was best for me as a mother who still had lots of mothering to do, as well as a part-time job. Plus, affording it is another question! Eventually I slowly starting taking a distance-learning course here and there while my kiddos little. At the time, I earned 21 credits of undergrad theology to get accepted to the FUS graduate program… since my previous undergrad work had been in Communications. The last three years (2005-2008), was when I did the graduate program, my children were teens. So when they were in school — so was I. (It was great — nobody ever had the excuse about not doing their homework because Mom was right alongside doing hers!!!!)

In your various commitments, Pat, what do you find is your greatest challenge? How do you face and/or conquer that challenge?
Discipline has always been my greatest challenge. The word disciple has the same root as discipline. To be a good disciple, I need to keep to a regular schedule of prayer, and writing/journaling, and being in the Word (Bible). All of this helps me love others as I ought. I really do have to fight distractions that would derail me. And there are many. Now, bear in mind, my children are older now, and most of my time is my own for these pursuits. It was even more of a struggle when my children were small. Sometimes, my husband would spell me for breaks to pray or go to church by myself, just so I could focus. I used nap times for rosaries, and playtime outside to talk to the Lord. Going for a walk and praying as I did so was helpful too — again, my husband taking the children so I could do that.

More from Pat on Tuesday, y’all. Now go enjoy the sun (or curl up with a book if it’s raining in your corner of the world)!