Linda Goodlin was 7 or 8 years old when she helped her friend Beth Anne Verostko study for her first communion.
“We would go behind the turkey pen and she would teach me the rosary because she was learning it,” she said. “I told my mum about it and she was like, ‘You can play with her, but don’t say it when you go to Sunday school, because you’re a Methodist.'”
That was then. Goodlin, who lives in Reagantown in East Huntingdon Township, is a long-time Catholic convert. She has become a popular inspirational speaker in recent years and on January 29, she will share her journey of faith at the quarterly breakfast sponsored by the Magnificat Chapter of the Diocese of Greensburg. It will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Rizzo’s Banquet Hall in Crabtree.
The international organization is a Catholic women’s ministry based on Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1:46-49. These verses are the basis of the Catholic prayer known as the “Hail Mary”.
Saying the rosary with her friend gave Goodlin “a desire to know more about Mary.”
But Goodlin said she didn’t pursue the conversion until her first child was born prematurely in 1969, at just 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
Goodlin was 14 when she married in September 1968, and her husband Tom was also a teenager. She promised him and his parents that all of their children would be raised in the Catholic faith. The little girl was baptized immediately because of her fragility. The following year, Goodlin converted.
“Linda had a hard time, but she learned to trust God with everything,” said Karen Douglas of Greensburg, a member of the Magnificat Chapter team. “Linda can be an example for all women.”
Speakers are chosen for their messages that exemplify Magnificat’s mission for women to reach out and support each other.
“When I met women at the Magnificat, it really changed a lot for me,” Goodlin said.
She has been in the ministry since 2010 and at one point was involved with the Living Waters group, which came from Steubenville for quarterly breakfasts. She played keyboards and helped with sound equipment until two years ago when arthritis limited her activities.
She is also a cantor and choir member at Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Mount Pleasant.
Goodlin and her husband have three children and four grandchildren.
They struggled to marry so young and live for a time in Ohio away from family support.
Tom Goodlin was 17 when he graduated from high school, but she had to get a GED certificate and take night classes to learn typing and secretarial skills so she could get a job. She worked as a certified animal lab technician, billed for a doctor’s office and at Westmoreland Hospital, then sold health insurance.
Along the way, she took classes online and in person for a two-year writing program with the Christian Writers Guild in Colorado. This led him to write short stories for a Christian children’s magazine and write two Christian historical novels for adults. Both are based on the experiences of his family living in and around the coal village of Rocktown in East Huntingdon.
His grandfather, James David Millward, built two houses with used lumber from coal company houses that were being demolished.
“It’s the house I lived in as a kid, and he lived with us,” she said. “He died when I was 11.”
His first book, “From Across the Pond”, is inspired by his family who came from Wales and settled around Tarrs.
“It’s based on all the different immigrants that lived in the coal town, and it would be the same kind of life for most of them in that area,” Goodlin said. “They came from all over, from Wales, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Russia. They were all coal miners.
This book was published in 2018. The second, “Childhood Lost”, came out two years later. These are children who had to work in the coal mines to help support their families.
“It was tough times when my grandfather came here,” Goodlin said. “He was 9 years old when he had to go to work in the mines. He worked his way up until that particular mine closed.
Both books tell stories of people who remained full of faith despite the challenges they faced. Goodlin took these books on tour for book signings. In addition to her involvement with Magnificat, she has also been the keynote speaker at events at Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC), Wesley Chapel Church in Scottdale, Mount Pleasant YMCA, and numerous libraries in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania. Ohio.
At breakfast, she said, “I will talk about my books which are faith-based, about people’s struggles and what they are going through, about the goodness of God and the blessings they have,” said she said. “I’ve seen this in my own life and times when I’ve been saved from death. I just want to share with people what my faith has done for me in terms of being a very young child and having a baby and raising that child. I want to tell people how good God really is to us. I want to spread the word about how faith has changed my life.
Goodlin is working on two more books. One that will soon be published is a short work called “The Grace of Becoming a Catholic”. The Untitled One that’s still ongoing is another novel based on life in mining towns in the 1940s and 1950s.
Goodlin stayed in touch with her childhood friend until the end.
“Beth Anne passed away from cancer in January last year, and me and two of her sisters each spent a week with her so she didn’t have to go to a nursing home,” a- she declared. “I was lucky enough to be able to spend an entire week with her before she passed away. She was a big influence in my life.”
The entry form and instructions can be found at magnificatgreensburg.com. The cost of breakfast is $23 ($18 for students) and registration must be received by January 24. Priests and religious are welcome to attend free of charge but must register by calling Brenda Concannon at 724-836-2094.