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Mary Beth Lorbiecki presents Following Saint Francis: Pope John Paul II's Call for Ecological Action

"The ecological crisis is a moral crisis." So said Pope John Paul II, an unexpected and fierce advocate for ecological responsibility throughout his papacy. Rather than seeing environmental concerns as “earthly” or “political,” he showed that they are in fact at the heart of the covenant between human beings and their Creator. In dozens of addresses, sermons, and encyclicals, Pope John Paul II made specific recommendations on twelve interconnected ecological issues, including climate change, ocean destruction, water scarcity, poverty, the role of women, and war. He showed that each could become a source of spiritual, social, and economic transformation.

Following St. Francis integrates Pope John Paul II’s vision with that of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, and the galvanizing words of Pope Francis. Accessible and illuminating, it speaks to hearts and minds, to nonreligious readers as well as devoted Catholics, incorporating Scripture, current science, and inspiring stories of solutions and restoration. Marybeth Lorbiecki unifies and champions the late, beloved pope’s view that all life issues are related and that all forms of life deserve care. And if we work with God and each other to protect them, we can “renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).

Mary Beth's brief autobiography

I grew up in a medium-sized town in the Midwest (Minnesota), and I'd never met an author before. But by junior high, I started trying to write books like the ones I liked to read: historical novels. My writing wasn't great, and I got discouraged.

I rambled through different jobs to help put myself through college, changing majors all the time. I had no idea what I could do with my life! I finally finished as an English major and then became a youth-worker volunteer. More odd jobs. Eventually I went back to school for a master's degree in English and writing, thinking I could teach in a commuity college some day. But in the meantime, I recieved an International Rotarian scholarship and spent a year studying philosophy in England.

Upon my return, I started flipping through the Yellow Pages, doing cold calls trying to find a job in communication. (I figured I could talk and write at least.) And I did talk a woman into giving me a chance at a small marketing communication firm. I wrote there for a few years and met my future husband, who was an art director.

By and by, I got antsy and quit, and managed to get a job with Carolrhoda Books as a children's book editor -- and discovered that I loved kids books and wanted to write them. So I did, starting with the three Earthwise Books as a co-author with Linda Lowery. (My husband, David Mataya, was hired by Carolrhoda to do the illustrations.) I also researched and wrote a biography of the conservationist Aldo Leopold.

In time, I took the leftover historical research and wrote an adult/young adult biography of Leopold called "Aldo Leopold: A Fierce Green Fire," which won awards and helped me find an agent.

When our first child (Nadja)was born in 1993, I decided to work at home as a freelance editor and author. That's been my life -- David and the kids (Nadja, Mirjana, and Dmitri), writing, editing, and teaching others about writing.

I write about what I am passionate about, upset about, curious about, or what amuses me (as well as what other people hire me to investigate and communicate). That's why my books don't fit into one topic or niche. As I get ideas of any kind, I start working on them, and if I stay interested, they might someday become a book.

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