WASHINGTON, DC (June 3, 2005) – Internationally-renowned author and "Queen of Suspense," Mary Higgins Clark; best-selling author of The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks; and Jack McKeon, the manager of Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins talk about the impact of faith in their lives in a one-hour special that will be distributed to NBC-TV affiliates on Sunday, June 19th.
The program, "Personally Speaking," is hosted by Msgr. Jim Lisante and is produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) as part of the "Horizons of the Spirit" interfaith religious series seen each year on many NBC stations. A list of stations that have scheduled broadcasts will be posted on the Internet at www.personallyspeaking.org as they become available. Viewers can also call their local NBC-TV station to ask about their plans to air the program.
Mary Higgins Clark was born and raised during the Depression in the Bronx, New York. As a young girl her mother nurtured her interest in writing, and soon after she was married she started writing short stories at the kitchen table. She sold her first one in 1956 for $100.
She also decided to try her hand at novels but her first effort was lost when the publisher folded. Her second novel, "Where Are the Children?" became an international best-seller. Since then she has written more than 27 best-selling novels and has achieved international renown as the "Queen of Suspense".
Widowed in 1964, she married former Merrill Lynch CEO John Conheeney in 1996, and is the mother of five (including daughter and frequent collaborator, Carol) and grandmother of six. She is also a devout Catholic and credits her faith with seeing her through the most difficult times in her life.
"I've always had a deep faith. I don't know how people survive without it. I think it keeps you grounded and allows you to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, but the better part of his childhood was spent on the move before his family finally settled in Fair Oaks, California. After graduating high school there, he attended the University of Notre Dame on a full track scholarship. He began writing while recovering from an injury to his Achilles tendon, ultimately producing his first novel. Although it was never published, just the accomplishment of finishing it got him thinking about a career as a writer.
In 1990, he collaborated on a book with Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, which was published by Feather Publishing and later picked up by Random House. He continued to put off pursuing his writing full-time, however, until 1994, when over a period of six months he wrote The Notebook, although he was still working full time in sales to support his family. Ten months later, Warner Books bought the rights to The Notebook for $1,000,000. It spent 56 weeks on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list and another 54 weeks on the paperback best-seller list. He followed up with eight more domestic and international best sellers, three of which have been adapted into major motion pictures.
Sparks works from his home in North Carolina, where he lives with his wife and five children, and credits his Catholic faith with not only keeping him grounded, but also helping him through whatever challenges life throws his way.
"One of my favorite passages from the Bible is in Corinthians: 'The Lord will test you, but he will always give you the strength to overcome whatever test he throws at you.' When it gets tough, that's what I fall back on. If it's given to me, something in me is able to handle it."
Jack McKeon grew up in South Amboy, New Jersey, during the Depression, dreaming of becoming big league ballplayer. He was offered a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948, but initially declined the offer to attend the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. After promising to complete his college education (he later earned a degree from Elon College in North Carolina), he signed on with the Greenville Pirates in the Alabama State League. After five undistinguished years in the minors, McKeon realized that if he couldn't make it to the big leagues as a player, then he would make it as a manager. In 1955, he was appointed player-manager of the Fayetteville Highlanders in the Carolina League.
His major league managing career included stints with the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds, where he earned National League Manager of the Year honors in 1999. He lost that job the following season, and after being out of the game for two years, was asked to manage the struggling Florida Marlins two months into the 2003 season. He led that team to an upset World Series title, defeating the New York Yankees in six games.
Born and raised a Catholic, McKeon still attends Mass every morning before heading to the ballpark and credits the intercession of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, with helping him land the job with the Marlins.
"Personally Speaking" is part of the "Horizons of the Spirit" series created by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, of which the USCCB is a member. The host of "Personally Speaking," Msgr. Jim Lisante, is the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hempstead, New York, and is also a published author and a regular columnist for the Long Island Catholic newspaper.
The Catholic Communication Campaign is an activity of the USCCB that develops media programming, public service announcements, and other media resources to promote Gospel values. Donations from Catholic parishioners make possible the work of the CCC. For more information, visit their website at www.usccb.org/ccc.