MARGARET O'CONNOR KIELKOPF, PH.D., LCG

About Me
"I will put My Spirit within you And you will come to life." Ez:37

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  Autobiography

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The Magnificent Cathedral of St. Paul, Minnesota

My parents baptized me 'Margaret Rose O'Connor.'My father was Irish while my mother, who spoke Polish as a child, was, of course, Polish, I was born in St. Paul Minnesota where I was raised in an Irish Catholic family with my three brothers: Vincent, Gregory and Timothy. In St. Paul, Minnesota being Irish is salient. I had the good fortune to be educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet in St. Joseph's Academy and the College of St. Catherine. My daughter Mary Beth lives in St. Paul while working as a senior technical support engineer. My son Christopher flies a medical helicopter out of Fargo, North Dakota and my son Thomas is a software engineer in Irvine, California.

Now I am a spiritual writer and speaker with a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota. But more important, I am Lay Cistercian of Gethsemani Abbey, the Trappist Monastery in Kentucky that was home to Thomas Merton.

Monk's Choir at Gethsemani

I want to share an important part of my story with you. Every life has turning points. Mine began eleven years ago, with a retreat made partly out
of curiosity, at the Trappist monastery in Kentucky. Like many readers of Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain, Gethsemani Abbey embodied the summit
of the spiritual search. At that time the practice of allowing women to make retreats at Gethsemani was still fairly new and I thought I had better
get there before the policy changed. Something profound and unexpected happened to me during that retreat. There is something about Gethsemani, something
about praying the hours with the monks that evokes a response. There is something about the rhythm – about Vigils at 3:15 am, Lauds at 5:45am followed
by Mass, breakfast, and the little hours through the day – Terce, Sext, None – then Vespers at 5:30pm and Compline at 7:30pm to end the day. There is
something about the psalms and the silence that permeates the soul.I look back and realize that from that time on, my life gradually changed. I felt a subtle shift in my priorities. To paraphrase the Ezekiel passage at the top of each of my pages: He put His Spirit within me and I came to life.

One day I decided to go to Mass, for just that one morning. The next day I decided to go to Mass again, for just one more morning. And so it continued - from one day to the next until the present. Now my husband, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy from the Ohio State University, and I attend daily Mass at Immaculate Conception parish in Columbus, Ohio. We also participate in our parish's Perpetual Adoration program; he from 2-3AM every Wednesday and I from 2-3PM every Wednesday.

Since the monastery experience, I began to read scripture with my heart, to meditate, to set time apart for prayer. My enthusiasm for this wonderful new awareness of God leads me to share it with others through my writing and my workshops. My workshops and writings focus on personal spiritual growth and prayer. My presentations and writings are in complete harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Experience has shown me that my workshops and writing appeal to people of non-Catholic communions.

Find out more about my writings and my presentations

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