Welcome to MyOrthodoxFamily.com! Tell us who you are.
I am a cradle Greek Orthodox Christian, born in Ambridge PA and currently living in Clinton, PA. My husband Jim and I have been married for 39 years. We have two adult children, Michelene and John, and two grandchildren, Gavin and Penelope. My husband is a registered nurse and a hobby beekeeper, and I own my own business, Katherine’s Daughter Events. I help brides have the wedding day they dream of.
My church is Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church in Ambridge, PA. Growing up, our family went to church every Sunday and my parents demonstrated a great love and respect towards the faith. My mother was active in Philoptochos, and my father served on parish council.
At the age of 12, I was drafted into the church choir along with another young person, Alex, and together we took turns playing the organ for the entire liturgy. I continued this until I went to college. I honestly can’t believe Alex and I did this. What a responsibility!
As a young person, I was active in GOYA, and currently am a member of Philoptochos. I served for six years on the parish council and was the council liaison for our church’s 100th anniversary weekend. I’ve been active with FOCUS and served on the ministry team of FOCUS Pittsburgh when it was first launched, then became part of FOCUS West Central and was a board member for three years.
Since becoming a caregiver to my now 91-year-old widowed mother, my time has been more devoted to her and my family, including my youngest granddaughter. I am also active in a recovery organization devoted to helping families deal with the effects of alcohol abuse.
What do you most enjoy sharing? What do you feel most called to share?
I’ve blogged for seven years on my own website, katherinesdaughter.com, and mainly I like to share stories of grace and love. Nothing is really out of my realm to write about, though I do try to stay away from controversial subjects. I look for the spiritual in everyday life; the miracles, the ways in which God shows us the way we can go. I feel that if we are open to His direction, we will see and do wonderful things. This is what I try and write about.
A few years ago I wrote a book, Ordinary is Extraordinary, and I’ve had the honor of speaking to several groups about it. I feel another book coming on. Perhaps this winter I will begin writing again.
The world of social media is complex. What do you see as difficult and as redemptive about sharing your journey in this way?
It is very hard to change minds these days, especially related to politics and other subjects such as vaccines. Mainly what I try and do is set an example by researching what could be false news, sharing positive and upbeat quotes and stories, and not engaging in petty online arguments. I do unfollow friends that consistently make fun of anyone, political or otherwise.
I don’t have the illusion that I can save anyone; however I can and do pray for people and difficult circumstances, and turn the end results over to God.
What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory?
My yiayia and her Easter celebrations are my favorite memory. My family would drive to my mother’s hometown in Stockdale, PA, and always go to midnight services at St. Spyridon in Monessen. Even as a small child, I remember my grandmother bringing home her lit candle from services. Then, even at 2 or 3am, she would put a spread on the table that would wow us. Tsoureki, red eggs, roast lamb, potatoes, and in particular I remember her black eye peas. Easter was one of my best memories.
What do you hope will be the mark you leave on the world as you pass through it?
I want to be remembered as someone who always gave a hug, an encouraging word, and unconditional love. I also feel my children and grandchildren will be my mark. I try and teach them to love others for who they are, step up, be good to our planet, provide service, and also practice good self care.
Thank you Melinda, for this wonderful opportunity!
What a wonderful photograph – you were such a cutie!!
Reading this I can still feel a bond with you my friend. No wonder we were best friends (since the summer of 1966). Love you Joanne. God bless you. I know I feel blessed to call you friend and am so thankful we have been able to reconnect.