by Angie Kay Dilmore
Katie McGrady was born and raised in Lake Charles, a town she loves and is proud to call home. She says Lake Charles is special, not only because there’s a church on every corner and always a friend to talk to in the grocery store, but because faith permeates the lives of so many, including her own. “Church was an anchor of my childhood – Sunday services, youth group programs and events, fellowship with others who also hoped to grow in faith. I am who I am because of this town and the Catholic faith I learned here.”
Katie went to Our Lady Queen of Heaven (OLQH) and St. Louis Catholic High School. She attended the University of Dallas where she studied theology. After graduation, she worked for a year as a youth minister in Chicago before coming home to Lake Charles and returning to her St. Louis roots as a teacher. She met her husband, Tommy, via Facebook after he read one of her blog posts and messaged her. A Pennsylvania native, he and Katie dated long-distance for 15 months before he moved to SWLA in 2015. They have two daughters, Rose (age 4) and Clare (age 1).
Katie is now a public speaker, an author and podcaster with Ave Maria Press, and the host of her own daily radio show with Sirius XM. Thrive magazine caught up with this busy wife, mother, and Christian entrepreneur, where she shared about faith, family, and the importance of finding help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Tell us about all these fun things you do for a career.
I began traveling and speaking in 2011. I did it on the side – for fun and a little extra income. But then people started emailing and calling, asking me to come to different places. So, I would go. And one day, an email asked me if I wanted to host a radio show for Sirius XM. All of that was only possible because I grew up here, in a community where storytelling and listening to people is valued and important.
Whether speaking to crowds of 20 or 20,000, it’s all about telling stories, connecting with people, showing them who Jesus is, why he matters, how you can meet him for yourself, and how a life of virtue and striving for holiness is what leads to happiness and peace in this world. I find it funny . . . I used to sort of get in trouble for talking so much. My teachers would shush me in class. I joined the speech and debate team in high school so I had an outlet for all the stuff I wanted to say. And now . . . I get paid to talk. Full circle, really.
How have the challenges of the past 18 months affected your family and career?
I got off a plane on March 11, 2020, and didn’t step back on a plane until late April, 2021. For someone who flew a dozen times a month to travel and speak, it was quite the adjustment. Everything changed. My career pivoted. Fortunately, I was working full-time with Ave Maria Press and had plenty to keep me busy. But it was a huge adjustment for Rose (who thought school was closed because she was somehow in trouble) and Tommy, who teaches at Lake Charles College Prep and had to pivot to e-learning within a few days. But it was nice to be together, more than we’d ever been, and to make improvements on our home. Of course, that made evacuating for Hurricane Laura even harder . . . leaving it behind wasn’t easy. And I was nine months pregnant, so our priority when we got to Pineville to stay with my grandfather was find a new OB-GYN and not give birth a month early.
Clare was born on September 18, 2020. When she was two weeks old, we returned to Lake Charles. With a new roof on the house and plans for a new fence, we were so happy to be back. And then came Hurricane Delta. We evacuated back to Pineville, and when we returned, we discovered substantial water damage in the living room and playroom. On more than one occasion, I shook my fist at the sky and demanded to know “why” from God, but the only way to move forward in the face of tragedy is to remember you aren’t stuck; there’s always something else on the horizon; and God is for you, not against you. Jesus loves you, I promise.
So, you met Pope Francis! Tell us that story.
In December 2017, I got a call from Bishop Provost. He said he’d given his approval for me to be invited to represent the U.S. at a gathering of young adults in Rome that Spring. So in March 2018, I went to Rome for 10 days to speak on behalf of youth and young adults, sharing the realities of the Church and faith for the United States. That led to the Synod (a meeting of Bishops) in October, which led to a document entitled Christus Vivit, which explores how youth and young adult ministry can effectively happen in the Church today. I have no idea why I was chosen. I didn’t apply or ask for it. The best part of the story was being in the same room as Pope Francis for a few hours, hear him speak, and shake his hand.
Who has been your most fascinating radio interview and why?
This is a hard one . . . because you’d think the answer would be something crazy cool, like when I interviewed Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, or Cardinal Napier, who has voted in two papal elections. But honestly, my favorite interviews for both my podcast (Ave Explores) and my daily radio show (The Katie McGrady Show) have been with people who simply do great things and create awesome stuff. The author of a new book for teachers or the musician who released a new album or the bioethicist who talks about why we should get the COVID-19 vaccine or a mom who has back-to-school tips for parents to not lose their minds. My favorite interviews are the ones that just end up being great conversations.
What advice do you have for couples with busy careers and young children?
Find help. Otherwise, you’ll drown. Whether in the form of family or trusted friends who can take the kids for an evening so y’all can go to dinner or sit down and actually take care of that project. Find help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. You’ll need it. So find it.
List your top three indulgences when you need some “me time.”
I read. My Kindle and I escape to whole other worlds while Bluey is on in the background. I like to bake. I picked up bread baking during the pandemic, so I’ll hide in the kitchen to make something delicious. And, because I’m a millennial, I wander through Target.
Find Katie on her website, katieprejeanmcgrady.com, her daily radio show, The Katie McGrady Show (on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM 129, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. CT) or on her weekly podcast with Ave Maria Press, Ave Explores).