Ann Arbor — Teresa Tomeo had achieved nearly everything on her so-called “bucket list” before the age of 30.
“In my own journey I fell away from the faith, and ended up miserable at the end of the day,” said Tomeo, who today is a popular Catholic author, speaker and radio host with Ave Maria Radio, which broadcasts from Ann Arbor.
Tomeo was a highly successful radio and television newscaster for many years, and was accomplishing everything she had planned for her life. It was only when she was laid off that she stopped to give herself a reality check.
Tomeo, author of the new book “God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond,” told The Michigan Catholic that this initially sad turn of events led her to realize her true calling in the media field.
“I was born to be a communicator,” she said. God’s plan was to continue utilizing her communication skills, she said, but in a different way than she thought.
Rediscovering her childhood Catholic faith, Tomeo eventually began working in Catholic media — and was happy to realize it was where she belonged.
Drawing from this personal experience in writing “God’s Bucket List,” Tomeo said many people rely on the popular trend of having a “bucket list” in order to feel they are accomplishing something in life.
“Having a ‘bucket list’ is now a household phrase,” Tomeo said. “There is an emphasis in our culture with consumerism, with what I want to do with my life, my goals. So many people are going around saying ‘that’s on my bucket list,’ not caring what God has in store for them.”
In her book, Tomeo says God places desires on our hearts because we are meant to follow his will for our lives: this is God’s “bucket list” for us.
“St. Catherine of Siena said that ‘if we are who we are meant to be, we will set our world on fire,’” she said. “‘God’s Bucket List’ is an examination of ‘how to align our will with God’s will.’”
The book presents different aspects of discerning one’s true calling in life, including mercy, fruitfulness and fellowship, and offers guidance on how to implement each of these gifts.
When discovering one’s true calling, she said, there will be affirmations along the way: “doors will open in certain ways.”
You will see what kind of fruit you yield in what you do, and that will help indicate if this is your true path, she said.
“The bottom line is how you are approaching this,” she said. “If it feels like breathing to you, if it’s natural, that will be an indicator. Not that you’re not going to have challenges, but you will have this very, very strong feeling of peace.”
But the book, she said, while written with many aspects of the Catholic faith in mind, is not only for Catholics.
“People are connecting with it because there’s something missing in their lives,” she said. “Many are thinking, especially with Christmas coming up, ‘what can I get for my brother Sam or sister Sally?’ I think this is a crossover book.”
Tomeo said her own story isn’t a blueprint for everyone; Catholics working in the secular media field, for example, are not necessarily called to pick up and leave for solely Catholic newsrooms.
“I prayed about that for three years,” she said. “We need more Christians in the [secular] newsrooms. If we don’t have people who know their faith in the newsrooms, such as what the Church really says about contraception, abortion or the pope … we will not have anyone to offer an informational, educational perspective.”
Instead, finding your calling aligns more specifically to using your own talents in any and every vocation God presents for you.
“We won’t find true happiness until we find God’s will in our lives,” she said. “God has a plan for each and every one of us — each of us was made for a very specific purpose that only we can fulfill.”
‘God’s Bucket List’
By Teresa Tomeo
Image Books (Colorado Springs, Colo.,2013)
176 pages $17.99