Interview with author Jennessa Terraccino

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I am a wife and mom in the chilly North East, but I am a Virginian at heart. I felt a passionate call to serve teens in Youth Ministry, and began that journey by pursuing a graduate degree in Theology through the Christendom Graduate School. I actively served as a Youth Minister at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Sterling, VA. Currently, I serve teens through my speaking ministry, and of course through writing. I enjoy cooking, dancing, laughter, art, singing, and resting in the arms of God the Father.

2. You've worked a lot with young people.  What has been your experience?  What inspired you to pursue that kind of work? Growing up, I always felt an intense call to discern God’s plan for me. After praying a vocational prayer to St. Joseph the Worker, I felt God calling me to become a Youth Minister. It seemed to encompass all of my gifts, and I desired to bring youth to a greater relationship with Jesus. I regret not having sparks for Christ sooner, and I wanted to reveal that God was real, and we are called to deep union with him. Moreover, it seemed that college was a “make” or “break” time for young adults when it came to the faith. I wanted to give teens tools to hold on to their faith during college. I think teens are awesome. They are passionate. They ask the best questions! They are also overworked, stressed, and insecure. The “young adult years” have the potential to be some of the most fruitful and creative years for individuals. It is also a vital time, when they are asking “who they are, what God wants of them, and what’s next?” These questions can all be answered by embracing Christ and sharing our hearts in prayer.

3. What made you decide to write a book? Since I was 10, I have had this deep desire to write a book (another part of my vocational call. I see now that our vocation is written on our hearts early through our gifts, often seen in childhood). I had a lot of ideas, but this one seemed worth pursing (years later!). More importantly, I felt God telling me to pursue it. The book came about through my renewed vision. The more I learned about God, the more I realized his fingerprints are found in everything, even fairytales. Secondly, as a Youth Minister, I saw a great need to host “guy” and “girl” nights. In these youth group sessions, the girls and guys would meet separately to discuss important topics tailored to them. I ran the evening for the ladies. It was always a hit. It was a great place to address the core issues on their hearts and offer a perspective from the Church, scriptures, and my personal experience. I wanted to spread the message further. I knew many others girls could profit from these messages so I wrote “The Princess Guide.” Too often books for teens focus on chastity alone, and while that is an important virtue, I felt that there needed to be more topics addressed. Virtuous living should affect all areas of one’s life. If you aren’t living virtuously in smaller areas of life, why would you suddenly have the gift of chastity? Temperance begins in different ways.

4. Who do you hope to reach with your book? I hope to reach anyone God has in mind. When I began writing this book, I wrote it with ladies 16+ in mind. I think it is especially great for College women. However, I have heard moms, and even men are enjoying it.

5. Dignity is a word thrown around a lot, especially in reference to women and minorities.  How would you define a woman's dignity?  Can she lose her dignity?  Enhance it? We have dignity simply because we are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. With that said, we can’t lose our dignity, but it is our job to showcase it. Jesus desires us to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Though we cannot lose our dignity, we can break our bond with God through our sinful (mortal) actions. My website logo reflects two choices. The choice to follow Mary’s example or to fall short and follow fallen Eve. My goal is to challenge young women to become like the Blessed Mother, a true Christ-filled lady. In this world of relativism, my logo reflects that its an “either” “or.” You can’t fall somewhere in the gray. You are either living as a woman of God, or you are not. During our life on earth, even when we have fallen, there is never a time when we won’t find God’s arms open to us.

6. In your experience, is it easy or difficult to be "authentic daughters of God"?  What facilitates that goal?  What impedes it? In this world, I would say it is a challenge to live as an “authentic daughter of God” if you are not intentional and steadfast in living out that desire. Those who are easily swayed will lose sight of their call. College is an agitator to authenticity. Most young adults are faced with more temptation than they ever imagined. They are tested. They are without support. It is there that many lose sight of the goal of being a girl for God. In college, a lady might feel as if she is the only Christian. When Mom and Dad are not around to “watch,” temptations seem easier to give into. Therefore, it is important to be convicted in Christ before heading off to campus. It is key to take ownership of the Catholic faith and be properly catechized. In other words, a gal should know why she believes what she does so she won’t be swayed. Finally, a lady should possess a prayer life. For all these reasons, and more, this is precisely why I wrote my book. I wanted it to serve as a “road map for a ladies life.” Moreover, I desired to serve as an “older sister” offering support and wisdom for women. So often parents fail to properly prepare their teen for what “bad apples” lie ahead.  Furthermore, we have a mentor crisis. Ladies have few good examples in the media and their everyday life. Ladies should read my book, and seek to live and lead holy lives. Heavenly mentors, like our Holy Queen Mary, will be very helpful along the way too!