Mary Treacy O’Keefe, MA

Featured

Mary Treacy O’Keefe is a national speaker, spiritual director, former radio show host, hospice volunteer and author. She is the award-winning co-founder of Well Within, a nonprofit holistic wellness resource center that served over 30,000 people during the past 11 years. Because of her commitment to people living with life-threatening illnesses and other challenging situations, Mary is passionate about helping individuals become ‘well within’ and live as fully as possible, especially when they or their loved ones are facing health crises and other life transitions. Her presentations and writings are designed to help reduce stress and anxiety and foster hope, healing and spiritual growth for a variety of audiences. Mary is available for keynote addresses, seminars, breakout sessions, retreats, and workshops. Her presentations have been enthusiastically received by religious groups, healthcare and hospice organizations, women’s groups, wellness expos, associations and various other public and private sector organizations.

Mary’s heartwarming stories have been included in several books, including three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, plus in Women’s Day, Catholic Digest and other publications. Her first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells, received Honorable Mention from the national Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her second book, Meant to Be: Discovering What We Are Called to Do and Be was published in September, 2014.

What people are saying…

“Mary’s presentation on Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells was well-received by participants and generated a lively discussion on Celtic spirituality, including the concept of thin places, where the veil between this world and the next one is very ‘thin’ and anam caras-the gaelic word for soul friends. The stories she shared from her book allowed participants to delve into their own stories of synchronicity, intuition, and the sacred time before, during and after the death of loved ones.”

–Cass McLaughlin, University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing

“Mary’s stories are poignant, tender, humorous and compassionate. I was most impressed with her “presence” before, during and after her presentation and I’m recalling a moment of grace that she shared with an audience member who was struggling with her own terminal illness. This woman was able to share a private recollection of a “thin place” and was very comforted by Mary’s genuine compassion, insight and understanding. I highly recommend Mary as an outstanding presenter, gifted writer and caring spiritual companion.”

—Mary Conway-Jast, HealthEast Care System

“Mary Treacy O’Keefe is one of the most skillful, sensitive interviewers I’ve encountered. Talking with her is an effortless, fun experience, in large measure because of her thorough approach to planning and preparation, and the rich life experience she brings to her task.”

~ Larry Dossey, MD Author of Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions

A Meant-to-Be Meeting Becomes A Great Gift to Our Family

Celebrating 28 years of O’Keefe Reunions, the result of a long-ago meant-to-be meeting between cousins! 

Nearly thirty years ago, my husband Dan happened to be in Arizona on a business trip. He decided to reconnect with his cousin Greg, who he didn’t see much due to thousands of miles of distance between them. During a delightful visit over a few beers, the two men reminisced about the couple of times their two families had vacationed together, not far from Superior, Wisconsin, where Greg’s mom and Dan’s dad (who are siblings) grew up.  Dan and Greg’s long-ago nostalgic meant-to-be conversation became the impetus for starting a family tradition of every-other year family reunions that has enabled once-distant cousins and their offspring to become great friends.

The first reunion occurred over a long July weekend, in 1986.  I had only met Greg and his two brothers once or twice before then. Similarly, I barely knew any of Dan’s other cousins, and wouldn’t  have been able to recognize any of them on a street corner.  This was very different from what I was used to with my own huge family, especially on my mother’s side, since most of her relatives still lived in Minnesota. We often saw each other at large gatherings which included 42 first cousins, plus many second, third and once (or more) removed ones.  When Dan and Greg decided to have an O’Keefe family reunion, I was excited that our children would now get to know more of Dan’s side of our family.

Dan’s father and his two surviving sisters (one brother had already died) and their spouses were thrilled to gather with their children and grandchildren at a resort near Cable Wisconsin. Over pot luck dinners, evening bonfires, long pontoon rides and just hanging out on the beach, the O’Keefe cousins reconnected with each other. And their spouses and children got to know a new extended family.   Thanks to the organizational leadership of another cousin, Barb, every now week-long reunion since then has become even more fun than the previous one.

Dan’s father and all his O’Keefe aunts and uncles are no longer with us. His mother Liz, at 89, is the last remaining member of her generation.  She loved being with the many members of a family that has been hers for nearly 65 years. She especially loved welcoming the five newest additions to her clan:

Barb, Greg and Dan, along with their other cousins and spouses, plus their children and grandchildren, all treasure the times they have with each other, not only at the reunion, but whenever else they can see each other. Had Greg and Dan not gone out for beers that long-ago evening, none of us would have the precious memories of so many meaningful times together as an extended family.

It’s never too late to start a new tradition, especially for families who don’t see each other often.  I encourage anyone who feels inclined to reconnect with family (and/or old friends!) to do it.  You are hearing that message for a reason. Responding to it will be a great gift, not only for you, but for your children and grandchildren!

A Christmas Meant-to-Be Miracle Story

On this special day, I’d like to give you the gift of a story from my book, Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be. In this true story, a caring woman, Cathy Svacina, heeded an intuitive prompting she didn’t understand and ended up helping a desperate mother find the perfect Christmas gift for her young daughter:

The Marble Lady

We never know when the chance to show love to another person will present itself, but when we open our hearts to the possibilities, the opportunities are there, especially after we ask for them. That was true for Cathy, “the Marble Lady,” who helped a distressed mother find the perfect last- minute Christmas gift for her daughter. Here’s her story:

I was a stay-at-home mother of five facing an upcoming divorce. Without a completed college degree, I scraped by financially by waitressing, housecleaning, and doing childcare. However, I was still trying to set an example of community service for my children, so I was doing presentations about marble play at schools free of charge. I also was researching and working on a simple little booklet to help preserve the wholesome, traditional game of marbles. Having put aside my quarters from my waitressing tips for over a year, I finally was able to self-publish my small booklet, Knuckles Down: A Fun Guide to Marble Play. I could afford to print only one thousand copies, but I planned to donate

many of them to grade-school libraries and historical societies because at the time, you couldn’t find marbles at stores anymore, and there was very little information available in research materials about them. Quite literally, Americans were about to lose their marbles!

One day, just as I was backing out of the drive- way to go to work, the UPS truck turned in and delivered my first box of the marble books. I was in a rush, so I threw them in the trunk of my car and went on to the restaurant. That night I had a table of twelve people from all over the United States. They were a lively group! I asked them what brought them all together and they said I wouldn’t believe them if they told me. “I’ve got five children,” I said. “Try me!” They said they were there for a marbles auction! When I told them I had just writ- ten a book on marbles, I saw two of the men wink at each other as if they didn’t believe me and thought I was just going for a bigger tip. I took their orders, then ran out the back door to my car and grabbed a book from the box in the trunk. I served them their drinks along with a copy of my book. The women in the group cheered and the members of the Marble Collectors Society of America bought two hundred and fifty of my books that night! They also invited me to speak at their upcoming Boston convention.

It was meant to be. My books arrived just as I was heading to work, where I waitressed just one night a week. My serving section was swamped,

but the boss asked me to take on the big group from another section, saying that if anyone could handle them, I could. They weren’t staying at our hotel and had come to our restaurant because they were tired of the food at their hotel down the street. And that night was only the beginning. Several marble miracles have occurred that continue to answer my prayers many times over.

One of those miracles happened while I was alone organizing marbles in my marble room. I plainly heard a voice direct me to put together a beautiful bag of marbles. I looked up to see who spoke to me but no one was there. Nevertheless, the voice had been so clear that I got my finest draw- string velvet bag with embroidered flowers on it and filled it with beautiful marbles. I carried that bag around for the next three or four days, not knowing why. Then, just three days before Christmas, a meeting at church was cancelled due to a child’s illness. Since I had some extra time before my next meeting, I went across the street to the Dollar Store to look for last-minute Christmas items.

While I was in line waiting to pay for my things, a woman came rushing into the store and asked the clerk where their marbles were. He apologetically told her they had no marbles. She insisted they must have some marbles and again he apol- ogized and told her they had none. At that point, she started to cry. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am, I have some marbles you can have.”

Between her sobs she asked who I was. As I took the bag from my purse I told her, “I’m the Marble Lady!” Seeing the marbles, she sobbed even harder and asked for my email so she could explain later because she had to rush off right then.

That night I received an email from her:

Dearest Marble Lady,

My little girl, Michaela, is our adopted daughter. We just finalized her adoption on the fourth of November. While in foster care, she experienced horrendous physical, sexual, and mental abuse no one should ever experience, let alone a three-year-old child. Michaela came to live with us at age three and a half, and is now five years old. She has made tremendous progress and continues to progress and heal daily. She is pure, non- materialistic, and she loves the Lord.

For the last week, I have been looking all over town for marbles for her. That’s all she wants for Christmas— just marbles! I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I was very upset. The night before I saw you, I prayed that the dear Lord would help me find marbles for my little girl. The next day, something told me to go to the Dollar Store, and you know the rest of the story. Now, how many times have you been in line at the Dollar Store needing marbles, and the lady behind you happens to have a bag of them in her purse? This was Divine intervention and you were an angel for my daughter this Christmas. I can’t thank you enough!”

I keep her email in my journal, and ever since I received it, I ask God in my daily morning prayer to help me tune in to anyone nearby that might need my help! That prayer has been answered over and over; I have learned not to question that still, small voice when it speaks to me! And, I’ve stayed connected with Michaela’s mom, who says that she still plays with her marbles. I will be sending Michaela a very special bag this Christmas!

—Cathy Svacin

A Meant-to-Be Moment Song Sign From My Father

Today is December 11, 2014, the day my second book, Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be, is being launched on Amazon. In conjunction with this event, I have been on several radio shows discussing ‘meant-to-be moments”.   Today, on the third interview of the day (things in threes are often ‘meant-to-be’ to me), the host took a break and played an Irish song, in honor of my Irish heritage. As I heard the words of the Irish Rovers sing their signature song, The Unicorn Song, my eyes filled with tears. My now-deceased dad loved the Irish Rovers, along with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Boys, the popular Irish group. For some unknown reason, the host of the show happened to mention how he liked the Clancy Boys, even though he is Jewish, not Irish.  When I was in high school, my dad often played both The Unicorn Song and many of his favorite Clancy Boys songs on Saturdays while we did our chores around the house. So hearing this song on a significant day like today was a touching ‘thin place’ moment for me, reminding of his continued love and presence in my life.

And speaking of the book launch, here’s my shameless marketing effort: When you purchase Meant-to-Be Moments today, Dec. 11, your name will be entered into drawings for a variety of prices and a free PDF of my first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells.  Please check my website for prize details: http://www.marytreacyokeefe.com or visit my Facebook page for Mary Treacy O’Keefe. You can learn more about the book, including reviews and purchase information via this link to Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/knw852c.  Thank you!!

Book Launch For Meant-to-Be Moments on Nov. 18, 2014 in St. Paul, MN

Please join me at the book launch for Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering  What We are Called to Do and Be, at 7pm, November 18, 2014 at Assumption Church, lower level, 51 W. 7th St. W, St. Paul, MN.

Here’s a story that opens my book, about the first time I experienced a meant-to-be moment in my own life:

“Get out of the car,” a voice inside me whispered one cold Minnesota evening as my boyfriend and I sat talking in his car in front of my parents’ home. Not wanting to explain to Dan (now my husband of more than forty years) that I was hearing voices, I ignored it. But when that voice became an urgent command, “Get out of the car, NOW!” I obeyed. Moments after my perplexed date and I were safely inside the house, a drunk driver smashed into Dan’s car and sent it careening into the neighbor’s yard.

There was an explanation for the accident: the driver drank too much, lost control of his car, and drove headlong into ours. Yet the voice I heard seemed meant to be: it saved our lives. But where had the voice come from? Had it been luck? My overactive imagination? Or was it the “still, small voice” that Scripture says comes from God? (1 Kings 19:12 KJV)

Since that long-ago incident and others like it, I’ve wondered: Are some experiences meant to be? Does God really call us to be a certain way and do certain things? Is there really a Divine master plan? And if so, what is our role in the plan?

My second book, Meant-to-Be Moments:Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be contains fifty-five inspiring and hope-filled stories along a four-part process for finding meaning within your own meant-to-be moments. If you are in or near the Twin Cities, I hope to see you tomorrow night! If not, the book is now available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.  Watch for more news about the Amazon book launch, with prizes, to be held on Dec. 10.  And please continue to email me at mtbstories@gmail.com, with any meant-to-be stories to be considered for publication in my next book! Thank you!

Audience Evaluations

  • Thank you, thank you for the opportunity you offered our group of 80+ individuals in your presentation on “Meant to Be….”  Your stories and inspiration offered our Faith Formation volunteer ministers a way to see that their commitment in faith to such a variety of ministries is God-directed.  Your guide to PRAY by the easily remembered points:  1) Pay Attention, 2) Reflect, 3) Ask and 4) say “YES” to God’s call was magnificent!In celebrating our folks as volunteer ministers, you helped create awareness of the weaving of God’s design in our lives through simple tasks of teaching children or working to support programming in the office.  You offered confidence in self and hearing the voice of God’s direction in our lives.  You spoke with passion and humor and offered peace and strength.

    We are most grateful.

    Katie McCarty and the Faith Formation volunteer ministers of St. Joseph the Worker, Maple Grove, MN

  • “I loved your openness to hearing/sharing stories from people of various religious backgrounds; would love to hear more stories.”
  • “This presentation helped me learn how to find meaning while dealing with the loss of my mother”
  • “I’m anxious to read the book. This gave me new insights concerning my own experiences
  • “This gave me different ideas for how to listen and respond– a helpful way of looking at and understanding the unusual things that happen in my life.”
  • “Mary was so much more than I even imagined. I had loved her book, but she is also such a dynamic speaker!”
  • “I can’t wait to read your book and learn more about “Thin Places” especially regarding death and dying. My mother is 83 and in poor health, so this helps me cope with I will be dealing with very soon.
  • “The presentation was excellent! Mary is a wonderful speaker! Please let me know about her other presentations.”
  • “I loved this presentation and Mary! My own experiences and beliefs were reaffirmed.”
  • “Real and genuine! I have “little and large miracles” daily-this helped me understand them. The talk was just great. Thank you!”
  • “Mary is very upbeat and humorous. I really enjoyed the evening. What an interesting and inspiring discussion on signs and connections to our Higher Power!”
  • “Mary is a passionate, witty and powerful speaker. Wonderful!”
  • “I found this to be fascinating, a very good presentation. Developed a curious desire to learn more.”
  • “This topic helped me understand my own visions. I can’t wait to read the book.”
  • “I loved Mary’s energy. I look forward to many more wonderful experiences of my own, as I’ve had thin places since my husband died.”
  • “I felt assured that I am not alone in my own thin place experiences. My expectations were dramatically met. Mary’s words and stories felt as though she had read my mail or my mind!”
  • “This was the second time I have attended one of your presentations. It was totally different from the first talk, but it was still just great!”
  • “I loved hearing other people’s stories and I will encourage others to buy the book. It helped me deal with the death of my son as I have had ‘thin places’ experiences involving him.”

Nancy Manahan Author, Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully

Last month, I listened to Mary O’Keefe’s Well Within radio show and was impressed by her understanding of the topics discussed, her thoughtful questions, and her perceptive comments. As a guest on her show last week, I got to experience her skills first hand. Having given hundreds of interviews, I recognize a rare, gifted interviewer, one who listens and speaks from the heart, is relaxed but alert, and gracefully goes with the flow rather than adhering to a script. I learned later that Mary had reread my book the day before our interview. Her preparation showed. Tune in here for a sample of Mary’s radio magic:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vshow.aspx?sid=1648.

Nancy Manahan Author, Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully