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Catholic Mom Spotlight

Come and See - Catholic Bible Study
Fr. Joseph Ponessa, S.S.D.
Laurie Manhardt, Ph.D.


A very special Catholic Mom thank you to co-author Laurie Manhardt, who generously donated numerous copies of this wonderful Bible Study to several lucky families.  Our free copies are being sent to the "winners", but you can be a winner too by ordering and participating in the Come and See - Catholic Bible Study with your family and friends!  Click on any of the links below for ordering information - thanks again and many blessings to Laurie Manhardt and Fr. Joseph Ponessa!  Lisa,


LH:  I am so pleased to be able to share the following interview with Catholic author Laurie Manhardt, Ph.D., coauthor of the Come and See - Catholic Bible Study series, written with Fr. Joseph Ponessa, S.S.D. Laurie, could you please start off by telling our readers about yourself and your background?

LM:  I am a Catholic wife, mom and grandmother. My husband, Jim and I have 19 grandchildren at the moment. I have a background in nursing and teaching, as well as experience teaching an inter-faith Bible Study.

LH:  How did you and Fr. Ponessa become involved in the process of writing Catholic bible studies?

LM:  Fr. Ponessa, a real treasure of the Church was brought into my life by the Holy Spirit. The pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Glendive, MT, Fr. Ponessa has an earned doctorate (SSD) from the Pontifical University of Biblical Studies in Rome (The Biblicum). He speaks 13 languages including Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. When I asked Fr. Ken Baker, SJ to help me write a Catholic Bible Study, and he found he didn't have time, he hooked me up with Fr. Ponessa. We talked on the phone and communicated by e-mail. Father Ponessa and I didn't meet in person until after we had finished writing "The Gospel of John."

LH:  It is so wonderful to be able to delve into a Catholic bible study series when so many of today's resources are targeted at other Christian denominations. What makes the series uniquely Catholic, and how do you assure that the books remain faithful to the true teachings of the Church?

LM:  Come and See - Catholic Bible Study series uses the Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We reference the early Church Fathers to show the Catholic understanding of the Sacred Scriptures from the earliest days of the Church. We present our work to Father Joseph Rosie for the nihil obstat and to Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, NJ for the imprimatur so that our readers are assured that nothing contrary to orthodox Catholic teaching appears in our books. We have a wonderful, Catholic publisher, Emmaus Road Publishing Company and our editor, Regis Flaherty reads our work carefully and points out any passages that may be unclear or problematic before we ever go to press.

LH:  What resources does one need to begin to study the Bible using the Come and See series? What types of groups would find the studies relevant? Is it possible for an individual to do the study on her own?

LM:  All you need is a Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
"For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37). Of course it is possible to study alone, but I tend to finish things when others are around to encourage me. This is a wonderful study to do in your home or neighborhood or parish. Find a few other young moms to set aside 60 - 90 minutes a week to study together. Pray to the Holy Spirit and invite a non-practicing Catholic or unchurched friend or neighbor. God can use Bible Study to bless you and to evangelize and catechize others at the same time.

John and Michelle Kazanjian of Ann Arbor, MI have done the Come and See - Catholic Bible Study: John with their five daughters. They are a home-schooling family who chose one night a week to do Bible Study together as a family. Some of the younger children were very adept at memorizing Bible verses and the youngest child finished almost the entire children's book, crafts and all in one evening!

LH:  You currently have three adult resources available in the series. Please briefly describe each of them. Do you recommend a specific title for a good "starting point"?

LM:  The Gospel of St. John provides a beautiful starting point. The chapters are familiar to every practicing Catholic, so you feel "at home" right away. The beauty of the sacraments emerges. You encounter the sacrament of Matrimony in John 2, the Eucharist in John 6, Holy Orders in John 17 and the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation in several chapters. You apply the Sacred Scriptures to your daily life. I've done this study twice and hope to do it again in my home with some couples in mixed marriages.

Genesis follows perfectly for the next year. This study is a bit more challenging, as you read longer passages of scripture. The beauty of creation and the majesty of God's plan for man and woman and the family unfolds. The fall of man, the promise of redemption, the weakness of the human condition and hope for the future emerge clearly. Many chapters are familiar, but some are rather unfamiliar. Father Ponessa presents quotes from papal encyclicals to help clarify the Catholic view of creation and the plan for reconciliation with God.

Prophets and Apostles has just been published. The prophecies of 11 Old Testament minor prophets are presented, while New Testament epistles explain the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Father Ponessa has been masterful here. The prophets and apostles seem to speak to one another across the centuries . The prophets look forward to God's promised Messiah, while the apostles look back at the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sin and the redemption of the world.

LH:  The two children's studies are such a fantastic compliment to the adult resources. Could you please describe the components of the Children's Bible Studies? Do you plan a children's study as a compliment to the adult Prophets and Apostles study?

LM:  The children's studies allow pre-school to early elementary school children to learn the Bible stories while their mothers' are doing Bible Study with other adults. Each chapter has a Bible story for an adult to read to the child, a coloring book drawing for the child to color and a simple craft for the child to make with a little bit of help.

Melissa Dayton, a Catholic wife and mother of six children illustrated both books with very beautiful drawings. How can a nursing mother with young children find time to draw and paint and meet unreasonable deadlines? May God bless Melissa and her wonderful, supportive husband, Chip.

Sandi Beyer, a good Catholic wife to Eric and mother of four children designed all of the crafts for the children to make. The crafts are so creative and can be made with simple things from around the house. Children make a rosary out of yarn and Fruit Loops and the face of Jairus' daughter out of a paper plate, construction paper and yarn. The children bring home the crafts and use them to explain the Bible story to Daddy or Grandma or anyone who will listen. Children are great evangelists!

I'd love to do Holy Men and Women of God to go with Prophets and Apostles. But, we wait for the resources and demand. We need women who have a heart for working with the young children. Moms, grandmothers, women without children, working women, single women, religious women, and teenagers can all be used by God to help teach the little ones.

LH:  How can a busy mom find time to fit Bible study into her daily routine? What are the benefits for women who take time to study the Bible?

LM:  BUSY MOMS ARE THE BEST MEMBERS OF BIBLE STUDY! My daughter-in-law Mary has seven little boys and she comes to Bible Study on Tuesday mornings with her little boys and her lesson done. Mothers have the most important job in the world. Prayer is essential in raising children for God and transmitting the faith to the next generation. Over the years I've seen that busy Moms who make a 60 - 90 minute commitment to come to Bible Study are richly blessed and become a blessing to others. God cannot be outdone in generosity. When we give time to Him, He gives blessings back. Bible Study enables God to transform us in profound ways. Moreover, doing Bible Study in a small group provides prayer warriors who pray with us for our marriages, children, health, finances and other concerns of this earthly life.

LH:  Could you please share any additional resources that might be helpful for readers who want to begin studying with the Come and See - Catholic Bible Study series?

LM:  Get a good Catholic Bible. I like the old Revised Standard Version. It reads beautifully for me. Find a Bible you are comfortable with and wear it out. Get a Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pray to the Holy Spirit for someone to study with you. That's all you really need. God will provide.

LH: Laurie, thank you so much for your time and for these wonderful Catholic Bible study resources! Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd wish to share with our readers?

LM: Prayer is talking and listening to God. If during your prayer, you are doing most of the talking, Bible Study might provide a way for you to "listen to God." God has given us His Word in Sacred Scripture. He invites all of us to draw closer to Him in the study of His Word. Anyone can do this study. Last year in my small group at St. Helen's in Vero Beach, FL there were some stay-at-home Moms, some working women and a mentally handicapped single woman. When the handicapped woman shared her answers and the professional women listened to her, I saw that God was at work in our midst.

In another small group, three women came back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after decades away from the sacrament. The women in the small group encouraged them and prayed for them. Imagine the rejoicing in heaven! Many people are confused and hurting. You could be an instrument of God in ministering to others just by gathering a small group of people to study God's Word. You don't need college degrees or special training. You don't need special ability. Just make yourself available to God. If you need encouragement or have questions, please e-mail me at  or check out our web site at And if you start a small group, please give me your name, city and state, to add to our "Current Groups" page.

May God set His Word in your heart and fill you with everlasting joy.

May you walk in His ways, always knowing what is right and good, until you enter your heavenly inheritance.

May God draw you deeper into His immense love for you!

Additional Resources
Emmaus Road
Renewal Ministries
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