Friday, May 4, 2012

Melanie Rigney, Interview #177

Name: Melanie Rigney

Where you live: Arlington, VA

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
By day, I work in marketing for the federal government; at night and on the weekends, I write, primarily in the Catholic space for Living Faith and Your Daily Tripod. I’m also the co-author of When They Come Home: Ways to Welcome Returning Catholics (23rd Publications), a book for parish leaders, and am working on a sequel for people who have been away from Catholicism.

Your two favorite books: 
In Search of Belief by Joan Chittister and The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill in the spiritual realm; secular, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

Your two favorite songs: 
Mysterious Ways by U2; The Servant Song.

Why you are interested in spirituality? 
I was away from the Catholic Church and a relationship with God for most of my adult life, from shortly before I turned 16 until I was 49. I’ve tried life without a lot of God and faith community, and it wasn’t miserable, but it’s so much easier when you have both. The value of faith in some form cannot be overestimated in our lives. Allowing a higher power to love us and move within us and change us can’t be beat.

Your favorite quote: 
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” from Julian of Norwich.

Your favorite web sites: 
I’m at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops ( Web site daily, as well as, for which I’m a columnist. Also enjoy

Your hero? 
My great-grandmother Johanna Swierbut Organist. She left Poland when she was 22 with little command of the English language and became a domestic in an iron mining/lumbering town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Within two years of her arrival, she had married my great-grandfather, gave birth to my grandmother, and with her husband had bought a farm about 12 miles from the town where she’d been working. She didn’t see any of her Polish family for nearly 20 years after she left, and never saw her parents again. She was feisty and hard working and didn’t take a lot of time to feel sorry for herself when things went wrong. I think about her when I feel overwhelmed or challenged.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? That God loves us just the way we are, flaws and all.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
The Oahe Dam near Pierre, South Dakota. I’m a South Dakota native and lived in the Pierre area for a couple years. You drive up some lonely roads, filled with beautiful bluffs, and come upon the winding Missouri River. It’s a peaceful place; sometimes, the only noises you’ll hear for an hour or more are the chirping of the birds and the sound of the turbine. It’s a moving example of how we as people at times harness nature… and yet, at the end of the day, we can’t control it or permanently change it.