Author to speak on staying focused on God despite grief, during luncheon at Laurie shrine

By: Jay Nies

The Catholic Missourian

Jennifer Hubbard remembers some advice she gave both of her children when they were learning to ride a bicycle.

“You steer where you stare.”

“For me, it’s one of the things I’ve been learning over the past 12 years and, in retrospect, throughout my life,” said Ms. Hubbard, award-winning Catholic author, writer and speaker.

She will share firsthand insights on discovering hope in tragedy during a luncheon on Tuesday, July 23, 2024, at The National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, in Laurie.

The luncheon will start at 11:30 a.m.

Seating is limited. Advance registration is required at

“You Steer Where You Stare” will be the theme.

“It’s sage advice,” said Ms. Hubbard, who is also the president and executive director of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.

It is named for her 6-year-old daughter who died in 2012 in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

“When I fix my focus on our Lord,” Ms. Hubbard stated, “the world can be spinning out of control, but I’m always being carried through those seasons of suffering and trail.

“And I think sometimes, we have to check-in periodically, both in and out of those seasons of suffering and trail, on what we’re staring at.

“Is our gaze fixed on disappointment — ‘coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’,’ blame, jealously — or are we trusting that our Lord’s plans for us are for our good?”

Freely responsible

Tickets for the luncheon are $50 apiece; a limited number of free tickets are available for those who purchase one.

Participants will have the opportunity to buy a signed copy of Ms. Hubbard’s book, Finding Sanctuary.

All proceeds will benefit The National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church. 

Ms. Hubbard is a national Catholic speaker and retreat leader and award-winning writer for the Magnificat Catholic devotional.

She has been a guest on a variety of national television shows, including “Today,” CBS News, and ABC News.

She talked in a recent interview about how people who encounter suffering can “have the freedom and the obligation to move forward in their life and live it with purpose and passion.”

In her presentation in Laurie, she will testify to how she has embraced that freedom and obligation to find purpose and passion in her own life.

A willing heart

Ms. Hubbard is convinced that carving out time for this event will be a good investment for people in their spiritual health.

“There’s so much talk these days about self-care and self-help and self-love, and it’s important for us to include our heart and our faith in that,” she said.

It will be an opportunity for people to consider where they stand right now in terms of their faith.

“You’re not going to walk away with all the answers, and no one is going to have some big epiphany and complete faith transformation,” she acknowledged.

“But you may hear something, you may experience stirrings, you may feel a movement that will grow exponentially, if only you carve out the time and give yourself that gift and invest in your relationship with God,” she stated.

She said speaking and listening in settings such as these also helps her grow in her relationship with God.

“As I share my journey and some of the things I’ve learned in walking through a valley of darkness and then some, I’m always reminded of how good God is,” she stated.

She’s convinced that like Jesus’s Parable of the Mustard Seed, even a bit of yearning to find healing and restoration can be enough to let the process begin.

“We don’t have to figure out how to do it, thanks be to God!” she stated. “All we have to have is a heart that’s willing to let it happen.”

For those who plan to attend the luncheon, Ms. Hubbard suggested praying ahead of time to be open and receptive to the message and the grace God wants to give them at this moment.

She suggested praying: “Prepare my heart for whatever I’m supposed to hear, for whatever I’m supposed to take away and glean.”

For herself, she requested prayers for safe travels and for God’s words to be spoken and heard effectively through her.

God’s and ours

The National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, is located off Highway 5 in Laurie.

The Shrine is dedicated to honoring Mary, the Blessed Mother, and to all the mothers of the world.

Its mission is to promote a true appreciation for motherhood, the preciousness of life, the integrity of the family, and an understanding of the Church community that gives Mary the title of Mother.

The Mothers’ Shrine provides faith-filled and joyful outdoor Eucharistic celebrations, pilgrimages and retreats, a serene and beautiful space for prayer and reflection, and celebrations throughout the year in honor of Mary and motherhood.