I´ve interviewed Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet, authors of "The Friendship Project: The Catholic Women´s Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, Faith-filled Friends”, a book full of wonderful stories about friendship, virtues and saints.
Q. Michele and Emily, please tell us something about you, your family and your current work.
(Michele) I am a wife and mother of four, ages thirteen to three. I work full time as a school nurse, but my greatest passion is evangelization. I am the co-director of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, an author and speaker.
(Emily) I am a wife, mother of seven, ages 18 years to 18 months. I’ve been involved with women’s ministry for over 10 years with my radio apostolate, A Mother’s Moment and I am also part of the leadership team for the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. I enjoy sharing the message of the gospel as an author and speaker.
Q. What do you think readers will discover in "The Friendship Project”?
(Michele) In The Friendship Project, we explore the cardinal and theological virtues with an eye toward friendship. Focusing on faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness, we share how each of these virtues is related to authentic Christian friendship. We also include touching stories of real friendships we have encountered in our lives that illustrate how God can use friendships to deepen our Catholic faith. Each chapter features a “saint pair”: two saints who were friends while they were here on earth such as St. Felicity and Perpetua, St. Therese of Lisieux and her sister Servant of God Leonie Martin and the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth. At the end of each chapter we provide some practical advice and strategies on how to grow in these virtues and implement them in your relationships.
Q. How did writing this book help you with your own friends and friendships?
(Emily) Our favorite part about writing The Friendship Project was we both became more deliberate and intentional about spending time with our friends. We started the simple idea of Friendship Friday, and spend part of that day with a one friend we desire to grow our relationship with or have lost our connection. Over the past year we have developed and deepened so many friendships with beautiful women and its brought such joy to our lives.
Q. Tell us how you got the idea of writing this book not only with your personal history, but with stories of various saints and their friendship.
(Michele) As we travel around the country speaking about our first book, Divine Mercy for Moms, women often approach us and share that their favorite part of the book is when we talk about our friendship. Emily and I have been blessed to know each other for over 20 years, since college. I met my husband at Emily’s wedding and we have worked in Women’s ministry together over the past 15 years. Many women shared with us that they too desired to have a close friendship in faith, so we knew that this was a topic women wanted to read more about. As we researched friendship, we were overjoyed to see the amount of writing that the saints have done on the topic of friendship and its importance and then also the number of saints who had other saint friends while here on earth.
Q. How did you choose the saints for the book?
(Emily) First, we prayed. We asked God to show us which of these beautiful examples of heroic virtue he wanted us to highlight. Next we did a lot research and found saints who had close female friendships with other saints while they were alive on earth. Many of their stories really touched our hearts Personally for me, the story of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity was one that I have been drawn to for years. As we wrote, we also realized we happened to include all four female doctors of the Church: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. Catherine of Siena. We were amazed to see that some of the greatest saints had these beautiful friendships that helped them personally draw closer to God and to become a woman of virtue.
Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge to make and keep good friends today?
(Michele) Time is a huge factor. We live extraordinary busy lives in today’s world that often leaves little time for developing and deepening friendships. As Fr. Larry Richards wrote in the foreword to The Friendship Project, “There is no way to be a true friend unless you dedicate time to it. The most lasting friendships are those that have shared time and memories. Think of your own friends from your past; the people you have spent so much time with are the people who have become part of the fabric of your life. If we want to have more fulfilling friendships in the future then we must decide we are going to give the time and commitment that true friendship demands.”
Q. Can you explain what the structure of each chapter is?
(Emily) Each chapter highlights a virtue important to friendship: faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity and prayerfulness. We explore how growing in each virtue will help us become better friends and deepen our relationships into spiritual friendships. We begin with a personal story of friendship – a friend who has taught us how to live this virtue and then discuss the “saint pair” and how their friendships influenced, mentored and assisted each other into living lives of heroic virtue. At the end of each chapter we provide practical advice on how to grow in these virtues and implement them in to your relationships.
Q. What can we find in the appendix of the book?
(Michele) The first appendix is a short collection of prayers. We wrote a litany of saints who were friends and other prayers to help you pray for your friendships.
Appendix two is the study guide. Through our participation in the same faith-sharing group for over ten years, Michele and I have come to understand the key aspects of what makes for a great group study so we have included five or six questions based on the reading material to guide your small group discussion. We also included a section called “Going Deeper Into Scripture” so your group can prayerfully ponder over the Word of God together.
In addition to the study guide We also offer a digital media component that will inspire, educate and enhance the small group experience. Professionally produced videos (one for each chapter) are available on our website, www.thefriendshipprojectbook.com We also offer a free downloadable journal and bonus materials on deepening faith filled friendships, recipes.
Q. Did you have a specific public in mind when you wrote the book?
(Emily) We wrote this book for women of all ages! Friendship is essential to life and happiness for everyone and we hope The Friendship Project sparks both new relationships and deepening of women’s existing friendships.
Q. Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you so much for being part of the blog tour! Be sure to follow the rest of our stops across the Internet! If you would like more information, please sign up on our website www.thefriendshipprojectbook.com to get the latest updates from us and find us on social media.
We pray that God will bless you with wonderful faith-filled friendships, for when Christ is the center of our friendships; the meaning of these relationships will far outlast the moment and can transform us into saints!