Local Catholic radio host wrote ‘20,000 words in about four days’ after her mother passed away 

DETROIT — The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, followed by an economic and a social one.

And all of it can lead to a crisis of faith.

But it’s faith that can lead people through a crisis, Teresa Tomeo insists in her latest book, “Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest,” (Sophia Institute Press, 176 pages).

Tomeo wrote the book quickly, she said, after speaking with area priests on her radio program, “Catholic Connection,” on EWTN-affiliated Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor (990-AM), about how they are ministering during the pandemic.

“I wrote 20,000 words in about four days; it just came pouring out of me after the experience of losing my mom,” said Tomeo, whose mother, Rosie Squillace, 93, passed away March 19 -- not because of COVID-19. “There were so many things about this experience, about how people must feel about not doing a funeral Mass, as well as so many great priests and all the neat programs and ways people are giving witness to their faith.”

Tomeo likened today’s crisis to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the country saw a great outpouring of faith as people looked to reconnect with the spiritual.

“There is a combination of so much things going on spirituality right now,” Tomeo said. “It was the Holy Spirit inspiring me to write that amount of copy in such a short period of time.”

“Conquering Coronavirus” highlights some of the creative ways clergy and others have ministered, as well as traditional, time-tested devotions and practices lay Catholics can use at home to strengthen their spiritual life in trying times.

Tomeo relates her own family’s experience of losing her mother, as well as how she processed the loss of spiritual community as large gatherings are suspended.

“My mother went from having this active, beautiful assisted-living facility with Bible studies, prayer groups, and every week having entertainment and wonderful meal service, and overnight, for obvious reasons, everything stopped, and only certain folks were allowed in,” Tomeo said. “Everything was happening so fast when the restrictions were starting to take place.”  

God is ultimately in control in a world where one’s health, financial standing and social norms can be so easily taken away, Tomeo said.

“God has shown Himself in many ways,” Tomeo said, particularly through the people who accompanied her through the difficult moment, such as her pastor, husband and friends “especially on the day they were burying my mom.” 

The book examines how priests in Detroit and elsewhere are ministering from a distance, including chapters about Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s 10 guideposts for Christians during the pandemic and spiritual closeness resources from the Archdiocese of Detroit. 

“We have so much to draw from in terms of great priests and teachers, and each chapter deals with a different area of spiritual life,” Tomeo said.

Tomeo acknowledged that even all the great spiritual resources and heroic efforts from priests and parishes aren’t a sufficient substitute for the Mass and Eucharist, but she hopes her book can be a guide for people as they face the unknown. 

“I hope this book strengthens people’s faith,” Tomeo said. “Right now it’s a big unknown, but this is not going to be the only challenge we’ll face. I believe that we serve a loving and just God, a merciful God. He allows things to happen, and for whatever reason, this is the Lent He wanted us to have. But I hope people realize that God is with us, in even bigger ways that we’ve ever imagined.”

Order the book

“Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest,” by Teresa Tomeo, can be ordered from Sophia Institute Press for $14.95.