NEWS: Camerado I Give You My Hand to be featured on CBS

a special to the Image blog  by Maura Poston Zagrans

Check your local television listings and set your DVRs. You won’t want to miss this.

It was “lights, camera, action” as three camerados battled butterflies in their stomachs, all for the sake of their passionate belief that there is much that we can do to fix our crippled criminal justice system.

On 27 August 2014, CBS producer Liz Kineke and crew came to the University of Notre Dame to film interviews of Father Dave Link, Gary Sparkman, and me for an upcoming episode in the Religion & Culture series. The episode, which is titled “Crime, Punishment, & Redemption,” is scheduled to premier on Sunday, 5 October 2014, but you’ll have to check your local listings for the date and time when your CBS affiliate station will air the show.

Behind the scenes at the taping of “Crime, Punishment, & Redemption” on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. CBS producer Liz Kineke preps Fr. Dave Link for his interview.

Thanks to the helpful intercession of vice president for university relations Lou Nanni, the regal third floor conference room of beautiful Stayer Hall was made available us. From a magnificent cathedral-shaped window, we could see the iconic Golden Dome gleaming in the sunshine.

After introducing myself to Liz and her crew–assistant Natalie Baxter and Chicago-based Dan Morris, cameraman, and Rich Pooler, sound technician–I drove to Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, where Gary would leave his car and then come with me to the site of the filming. Gary, a former felon who had grown up in the violent Wild 100s of Chicago’s South Side, and whose story of discovery and redemption is told in Chapter 12 of Camerado, I Give You My Hand, is a miracle of sorts. Out of a sense of gratitude for the many blessings that have led him to his present life as a model citizen and loving father, Gary overcame his shyness and agreed to be interviewed for the show.

Gary’s face lit up when he saw me pull into the parking space beside him. We climbed from our cars and gave each other bear hugs. He looked fantastic. I felt a rush of pride.

Fr. Dave and Gary Sparkman

It had been exactly one year since I had seen Gary on the night of Camerado’s book release party. That night, Gary was the first to arrive at the Eck Alumni Center, where the celebration was held, so I was able to spend time with him before the crush of guests arrived. I had long anticipated the thrill of placing a copy of Camerado in his hands, but even I was unprepared for his deeply emotional reaction. “Wow,” he said, overcome. “Wow.” He sank into a nearby couch and sat there, too stunned to say anything else, as he turned the pages. He became oblivious, as if he had gone into some deeply private place and the rest of the world had disappeared.

So here we were, happy to be together again. As I drove to Stayer Hall, we talked about how much we admire Liz, who had proven in phone conversations just how well informed she is about prisons, and about poverty, and about the connection between the two. As we rode the elevator to the third floor, we talked about Gary’s daughter and her love of reading—my kind of kid, for sure. And then as we walked down the long corridor toward the conference room where the crew was customizing lighting conditions and setting up equipment, we talked about how nervous we were.

Entering the room and turning to his left, Gary suddenly stopped in his tracks. There, right in front of him, sat Father Dave.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Gary buckled in the middle. Clutching his heart, he exclaimed, “Oh! Oh, my!”

He turned to look at me, and I saw that tears had filled his eyes. “Maura,” he said. “Oh, my! Oh, my! Maura, you–you surprised me! You brought Father Dave here to surprise me!”

I realized then that he had not known that Father Dave would also be here for the taping.

Fr. Dave and Gary film a scene for “Crime, Punishment, & Redemption,” which premieres on Sunday, 5 October 2014 on CBS.

Father Dave, who was by now on his feet, extended his hand as he closed the short distance between them. Gary took the outstretched hand and then simply wrapped his arms around the priest and, as if they were long-lost relatives, the two figures melded into one.

Great, I thought, furiously blinking back tears that would obliterate my eye makeup. This is not the time to cry.

I felt terrible as I watched Gary struggle to keep his composure. He was so emotional, so raw it made me feel guilty, as if I were engaged in indoor rubber-necking. And yet, at the same time, I felt a keen awareness that Liz and the others were witnessing a powerful scene that could never have been scripted. It was the kind of thing I had seen over and over again the past four years since I started writing my book. This is the kind of raw, genuine exchange of emotion that happens all the time between Father Dave and his brothers. His camerados.

I turned to look at Liz. She was gazing, mesmerized, at the two friends. Backlit by the brilliant August sunshine, an aura of light surrounded her form. Was I imagining it, or was she blinking away a few tears of her own? She caught my glance. Her mouth curved in a gentle smile, and she nodded. It was then that I knew this would be a great day.

Lights. Camera. Action. Bring it. Bring it all. We were ready.

A CBS cameraman gets a shot of Fr. Dave and Gary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.


Click here for a listing of “Crime, Punishment & Redemption” air dates.

Maura Poston Zagrans is a poet, published author, and photographer. Her latest book, Camerado, I Give You My Hand, is the the nonfiction narrative of Reverend David T. Link, a lawyer-turned-priest who is changing the lives of prisoners at Indiana State Prison. To get the full story, Maura went behind the razor wire, where she spoke with and photographed prisoners at maximum-, medium-, and minimum-security facilities. Maura, a mother of six, is also the author of Miracles Every Day: The Story of One Physician’s Inspiring Faith and the Healing Power of Prayer.



BLOG TOUR: The American Catholic Almanac

Hit the Road with The American Catholic Almanac!

Ever wanted to drive cross-country?

Join us next week as we explore the people and places featured in The American Catholic Almanac: A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People Who Changed the United States through a cross-country blog tour.

Our bloggers have picked some of their favorite entries from the Almanac’s unique collection of stories to share with you!  Follow along as we take a captivating ride through American history, from beer-brewing monks to the design competition for the construction of the White House, from a snowshoeing priest to the deathbed conversion of John Wayne. And that’s just a sneak peak of what’s in store. We can’t give away all of the surprises!

Blogger Sarah Reinhard loves this book so much, she can’t put it down!

“This is history in bite-sized nuggets, told as a story, and INTERESTING… I suspect this is the kind of thing you’d want to get that hard-to-shop-for Catholic in your life. Each day is only a couple of pages, and it’s sooooo fascinating!”

Join the fun and follow the tour to find out what the rest of the bloggers are saying about this exciting new book.

Blog Tour Schedule

September 29 – Catholic Vote

September 30 – Catholic Mom & A Good Measure

October 1 – Snoring Scholar

October 2 – A Knotted Life

October 3 – The Catholic Book Blogger

October 4 – David Mills

October 5 – Mama Knows, Honeychild

October 6 – Happy Catholic

October 7 – Seasons of Grace

October 8 – Blog of the Courtier

October 9 – Reading Catholic

October 10 – I Have to Sit Down



TRAILER: He Dared Speak the Truth

A 13 part documentary that ties in to MY BATTLE AGAINST HITLER will air on EWTN beginning Oct. 12, 2014. The series will be called “He Dared Speak the Truth: Dietrich von Hildebrand vs Adolf Hitler” and feature interviews with Alice von Hildebrand and John Henry Crosby.

INTERVIEW: Colleen Carroll Campbell

Photo credit: Jeremy Rusnock

Q&A with Colleen Carroll Campbell

author of

My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir

Available in Paperback Sept. 23, 2014





Q. Your writing career until now has been focused mostly on journalistic and political endeavors – as a news and editorial writer, op-ed columnist, presidential speechwriter and author of The New Faithful, a journalistic study of a religious phenomenon. What inspired you to take such a personal turn in this new book?

The truth is, I was forced into it. I was drawn to writing about the themes at the heart of this book – the tensions between our human desires for both freedom and commitment, spiritual growth and worldly success, avoidance of suffering and the wisdom that comes only through trials. I was especially drawn to writing about how these tensions play out in the lives of women struggling to reconcile their Christian faith with contemporary feminism. And in the end, I found myself agreeing with Flannery O’Connor: “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way … You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.” It just so happened that the story I needed to tell was my own – mine, and those of six women saints.


Q. The personal struggles you describe and issues you confront in this book are quite contemporary, from disillusionment with the hook-up culture to difficulties finding work-life balance and moral dilemmas over hi-tech fertility treatments. Yet most of the saints you cite as guides were contemplatives and many were cloistered nuns. Did it surprise you that you could relate to these women?

Yes, it did. The outward circumstances of my life and the lives of these saints were often very different, though there were some striking parallels – such as the dementia that struck St. Therese’s father and my own father. The real basis of my connection to these women was more fundamental, though: our shared search for meaning, longings for both love and liberation, and struggles to overcome temptations and faults. The contemplative dimension of these saints was also their genius, and I learned that the true contemplative does not seek to escape life but to live it more fully and deeply. These women of prayer taught me a lot about how to live as a woman of action in the world.


Q. You write about your attempts to find meaning in your father’s battle with dementia. Why is a spiritual lens helpful when viewing the Alzheimer’s experience?

We live in a culture that judges a person’s worth according to the categories of autonomy, productivity and rationality. By those standards, an Alzheimer’s patient does not count for much. We think nothing of describing dementia patients as mere “shells” of their former selves, as “not really there,” “already gone,” even, according to some ethicists, as non-persons. It’s natural to recoil from the changes that take place in a loved one afflicted by Alzheimer’s – I recoiled from them, too, initially – but looking at this disease through a spiritual lens allows you to see gifts in the person and the trial that you could not otherwise see. For me, this meant coming to see my father not only as still himself and still beloved by God but as a true model of unconditional love and profound trust in God – someone I could still learn from and admire, even amid his decline.


Q. You worked as the sole woman speechwriter to President George W. Bush, a rare opportunity yet one that exposed you to the sort of work-life conflicts that confront women in all walks of life. Why was it important to you to find spiritual meaning in those conflicts and a saint to help you sort through them?

I turned to my faith to sort out those conflicts precisely because I found the secular alternatives so inadequate. On the one hand, I heard from a secular feminist establishment that gave me the “you go, girl” speech – but offered me little help in dealing with my own innate desires for marriage, motherhood and more time with my family. There were antifeminist voices that supported those desires, of course, but they often gave short shrift to my legitimate longing to do meaningful work in the world, treating it as somehow selfish or superficial. So I found myself looking to my faith, and in this case, to St. Faustina, for guidance in balancing these two competing desires – to discern where God was calling me and how I could find love and peace without sacrificing my freedom and all I had worked for.


Q. In writing about your journey through infertility, you mention your frustration at how few books you found that helped you deal with the spiritual side of this trial. What’s missing from the way infertility is often addressed in religious circles?

For starters, compassion. When you are dealing with infertility, you get a lot of unsolicited advice: Just pray! Just relax! Just adopt! But advice is usually the last thing you want. What you really want is a baby. And failing that, you want someone to acknowledge your grief and its validity without giving you a lecture about why you should not take your childlessness so hard or which remedy you should try next. In my case, I had the resources to figure out my medical options and to understand, on an intellectual level, the moral implications of various infertility treatments. What I most needed was a way of making sense of my trial and getting through it. I needed help understanding my value as a woman even if I never bore biological children. Where did I fit in the kingdom of God if this were to be my permanent lot in life? What was the meaning of my marriage if it could not bear fruit in this way? Why had God given me this intense desire to bear a child if he did not intend to fulfill it? Those were the questions that led me to discover the writings of St. Edith Stein, a philosopher who wrote poignantly – and, for me, very helpfully – about the meaning of a woman’s maternal desires and the way those desires can be fulfilled in all walks of life.


Q. There seems to be a renewed interest in the saints in recent years, even beyond the Catholic Church. Why do you think that is, and why should readers – especially non-Catholics – get to know the saints?

Christianity is an incarnational religion. We believe that God became man in a specific town, on a specific day, in the womb of a specific woman. So the personal and specific matters in Christianity, and the personal stories of Christ’s followers matter, too. Each life testifies to some unique aspect of God’s love; each human person bears God’s image in a unique way. Getting to know the saints allows us to get to know Jesus in a new way, to see his qualities magnified through a new lens or situated in a new historical context. I like the way Father Robert Barron put it when I asked him this question on my EWTN show, “Faith & Culture.” He said that looking at Jesus is like looking directly at the sun: His virtues are brilliant, blindingly so, and they give light to everything else. Looking at the saints is like looking at the moon: They reflect the light of Christ, but in a way that’s a little easier for our imperfect eyes to take in. When we’re striving for holiness and intimacy with God, it helps to look at these little moons – to look at the men and women who faced the same struggles as us and emerged victorious.


Q. Most of the women saints you highlight lived in modern times and all but one left behind voluminous writings about their own spiritual journeys. Do you see this spiritual memoir as an attempt to follow in their literary footsteps?

Well, I certainly would not claim to have written the next Interior Castle or Story of a Soul, but I do see My Sisters the Saints as part of that long tradition of Christian writers linking their personal stories to the great story of Jesus and his saints. In the contentious, sound-bite age we live in, I think it’s tempting for Christians – and especially Catholics – to get so caught up in debates over doctrine or ecclesial politics that we lose sight of the intensely personal character of Christianity, a religion that is all about a personal God reaching out through the person of his Son to touch the personal lives of his followers. That’s not to say that doctrinal disputes or the public implications of Christian beliefs do not matter; I think anyone who has followed my work knows that I take those things seriously. But at the end of the day, God changes the world one heart, one life and one story at a time. This spiritual memoir is my attempt to share how God used the stories of his saints to change my heart and my life.


To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Colleen Carroll Campbell, please contact Katie Moore, publicist,, 719-268-1936.


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