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Sister Josephine shares “Hope Stories with Black Catholics”

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John Touhey | Aleteia

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/16/23

Sr. Josephine sits down with friends and family to share stories of struggle and joy that encourage hope in Jesus Christ.

If you’re a long-time fan of Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN, I’m here to tell you that you are not the only one

As a Catholic Christian writer, speaker, and mental health counselor, Sr. Josephine brings a refreshing and inspiring perspective to so many important topics. 

Now she’s created her first podcast, with a message closely united to her forthcoming first book. Her goal with these projects, as with all her work, is to help people discover and abide within places and relationships where they can be received wholeheartedly as gift.  

Her podcast, Hope Stories with Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN, explores extraordinary stories of hope hidden within the ordinary lives we lead.  

… one of the most courageous things we can do is share our own journey of faith, our own witness story, what we have seen and heard and touched…

Sr. Josephine loves the transformational power and gift of stories, and their ability to reveal deep truths about the purpose and meaning of our lives. For this first series, “Hope Stories with Black Catholics,” Sr. Josephine sits down with friends and family to share stories of pain, struggle, consolation, and joy that encourage even the most downhearted to participate in the hope of Jesus Christ more fully.   

I had the chance to catch up with Sr. Josephine about her podcast. Here’s our conversation.

What inspired you to start the Hope Stories podcast, especially as someone who didn’t used to like podcasts? 

I go into detail in the first episode of the podcast about where the inspiration came from. It wasn’t as driven and direct as we are sometimes used to in our culture; this sort of “I decide what I want to do and then I go do it” type of approach; it was not that. It was more of a process of receiving a bit of inspiration at a time from the Holy Spirit and then eventually looking up and having this podcast and this concept. 

I was so hesitant because the digital space has become entrenched with so much noise. It is sad that the Catholic space has allowed secular culture to influence our digital space as well. We can be quite noisy Catholics on the internet! I think I hesitated because I did not want to add to the noise any more than I maybe already have, so it was a very drawn-out discernment, with multiple folks providing input.

I am really excited about where we have ended up. 

Why are these stories of hope so valuable to hear, especially now?

I believe stories of hope in general reconnect us to the essential tenets of our faith: that God is good. That that goodness is not predicated on the absence of hardship, but predicated on the fact that because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can stand in darkness and suffering and wait confidently on the light to overcome it. And that this process of waiting for all darkness to be overcome is a pilgrimage during which we become like Christ and become ushers of the message of the resurrection. 

Any story where a person accepted the challenge to hope in a deep way, to embrace the virtue of hope, will most likely be a revelation of those truths of our faith — but with flesh on it, in the life of the person sharing the story. There are many tasks and works that Mother Church needs to pursue in America so that we might be who we say we are as Catholics. We have so much work ahead of us in building the Kingdom of God in this land we abide in. 

One of those tasks is the evangelization of Black Americans who are very absent in number from the Eucharistic table. So, these stories highlight some amazing Black Catholics, to not only encourage other Black Americans in their journey to the Eucharistic table, but also to embolden all evangelizers to extend invitations where maybe there was a hesitation to do so in the past. 

What are some of your favorite hope stories that will be shared on the podcast?

I really cannot pick a favorite! What I loved is that I thought I knew what particular story most of my guests would tell, because many of them I know well enough to have an idea. But they all surprised me with their choices, and also with the depth of their vulnerability. It was just such a display of courage that we do not always get to see. 

Folks sometimes call themselves courageous in the digital space, but I think one of the most courageous things we can do is share our own journey of faith, our own witness story, what we have seen and heard and touched — which is far more profound than simply sharing what we have thought about intellectually. Each guest was a model disciple in that way, sharing their own encounter with Jesus in difficult times in their lives. 

What is the most important thing you would want people to know about the Hope Stories podcast?

The most important thing I want people to know is that it is a podcast full of joy, laughter, courage, profound simplicity, and that it is a podcast for everyone. I also want help praying about the next series! Which Hope Stories should we tell next? 

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