Today, I continue my ongoing series of conversations with published authors as I’m joined by fantastic Catholic “mum” Chiara Finaldi. The founder of Catholic Mothers, Chiara is a faith-filled creator who finds herself not only busy with caring for her growing family, but also with growing a wonderful apostolate. As someone who’s always in search of great productivity tools that also help me prioritize time for my spiritual life, I’m a big fan of Chiara’s Catholic Mothers Planner 2023. I hope you enjoy our conversation and that you’ll check out her community and this fantastic planner. Lisa
Q: Chiara, congratulations on the publication of Catholic Mothers Planner 2023. Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I am a wife and mother of seven – my children range in age from college to diapers and everything in between. I was born in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Sicily but moved to London, England in 1999 when I married my husband Pierpaolo. My husband always says I am a workaholic and a perfectionist which is a terrible combination but it has led me to throw myself with a great passion into the apostolate to Catholic Mothers!
Q: Your lovely planner is a work of your dedicated Catholic Mothers Apostolate. Before we discuss this awesome tool, would you please tell us a bit about your work with mothers and the apostolate?
The life of a mother is full of fun and excitement but can also become quite lonely and monotonous. You can sometimes lose your social networks from work or parish or family and the opportunities to pray or be formed in the faith are few and far between and often have to be done without or in spite of your children. I joined some secular facebook groups for Mums but was often horrified by the discussions that took place. It was anti-marriage, anti-man and the last straw was when someone did a Facebook poll on whether she should abort her baby! So I set up a Facebook group that would always be in support of marriage and children and the faith – we now have over 5000 super active members! From there at the suggestion of some local Mums I started a group in the Parish that has now been meeting for over 8 years every Thursday morning. We pray together and read books and discuss our problems and joys in the light of the faith. Children are always welcome and so the meetings are full of noise, laughter (…sometimes tears) and some sessions are more productive than others, but we grow in faith and friendship. The model has been taken up by Mums around the UK and we have our fifth chapter starting this month! I had no intention to start anything – it’s all God’s work!
Q: I saw online that this is your fifth year for the Catholic Mothers Planner. Congratulations! What started you down the path of creating planners for women?
As my children got older life was getting really busy with appointments, sports, lessons, etc and it was just impossible to hold everything in my head. I had tried everything – wall charts, wipe boards, diaries, phones, computers but nothing seemed to quite work or hit the mark. Wall charts aren’t portable, diaries are boring to look at, we spend too long with our phones anyway and once I pull out a laptop the kids will immediately hog it!
I’d seen a number of planners around that did more than a diary but didn’t quite fulfill my Catholic need to follow the feasts and seasons so I thought rather than complain about other people’s books I would make one myself. My husband has been publishing Catholic books for over 20 years and we have often spoken about the lack of resources that are faithful, modern, and attractive. So we set about to make the most gorgeous, feminine, and content-filled planner that would also support the liturgical life!
Q: How do you personally use your planner? Why would you recommend that women invest both time and finances in a quality planner?
The Church is “an expert in humanity” and knows that left to our own devices we would allow every day to become the same! For this reason, She gives us feasts and seasons so that the year is constantly moving from a fast to a feast. Of course, I put in all my appointments but the feasts and quotes and novenas and activities all allow me to intersperse the humdrum activities of everyday life with what is far more important. The Domestic Church is where the faith is really passed on to our children so any resource that can help us do that in prayer and fun and beauty is well worth the investment.
Q: How does this year’s planner differ from previous versions?
Every year’s planner contains new prayers, quotes, activities, and recipes for the feasts and seasons of the Church’s year. Last year was Marian but in 2023 the great women of the Bible will accompany us through the year. There are reflections and scripture passages that will help you get to know these heroines of the Faith!
Q: Do you have a favorite feature of the planner? How has this helped your spiritual and vocational journey?
For me, the feasts of the Church are such a help and the activities have been great to do especially with the smaller children. They are practical, easy, and a great way to learn something new for me and the children.
Q: What are a few of your goals for 2023 and how do you hope your planner will help you journey in the New Year?
I’d really like to read more of the scriptures and carve out some time to reflect and write down my thoughts in the planner. The Bible is a big and intimidating book and I think that making some new girlfriends from the history of salvation is a great place to start!
Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
This is a book designed by mothers, written by mothers, and illustrated by mothers for mothers! It’s a gift from one mother to another and is born of experience and need. I hope it can support you in your faith as it has in mine. And… I think it’s just gorgeous – after all, it is my baby!