Browsing The Northern Cross

‘Catholic Grandma’ spreads mercy to world from Hibbing

By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

The heart of Kristine Franklin’s new apostolate is simple enough: “I am a mom and grandma and I have time to pray,” she said.

“So if someone needs prayer — anyone, for any reason — they can post it at my website anonymously if they wish, Catholicgrandma.com. That is the main focus of my apostolate. I pray, and I blog, and for the Year of Mercy, I added a weekly podcast.”

Mercy Unwrapped artFranklin, who with her husband Marty lives in Hibbing, is a well-known convert who has done series on the Eternal Word Television Network with Rosalind Moss. She was born and raised in Washington in what she describes as a fundamentalist evanglical home. She got a degree in communications and, after she and Marty were married, they trained and set off to be missionaries in Guatemala for two years. But that’s when she first began to have “serious questions about my faith.”

Marty was offered a job at Hibbing High School, and Kristine says during their first year back in America, they scrutinized their beliefs, which ultimately led to them being received into the Catholic Church in 1995.

Her new Catholic Grandma project is the fruit of a long discernment, she said.

“A while back I was approached by a national radio network about doing a daily call-in show. The topics would be current events, politics, etc.,” she said. “I was tempted, but in the end I turned it down. It didn’t feel right for me. I prayed about it for a long time and realized, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that what I really want to do is pray for people.”

She pitched the idea for a call-in show based around that, but they didn’t like the idea.

“But I believe people need prayer and don’t all have someone to pray for them,” she said. “So feeling really strongly about it, I set up CatholicGrandma.com — it isn’t a live radio show, but I still can pray for anyone who asks.”

All the prayer requests are kept confidential, she said. On her website, there is a form for entering a prayer request. There is also a “Thanksgiving” page, where people can let Franklin know their prayers were answered — and optionally give her permission to share the message on the website.

The podcast

Franklin said that when Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy, which began Dec. 8, she wanted to do something more, so she jumped in with the podcast.

“It has been amazing how many people the Lord has brought to me for interviews,” she said. “Famous people, ordinary people, you name it. Each one has a wonderful and unique story of God’s mercy. It is a weekly podcast and I need 50 interviews. Right now I have 38 commitments, and by the time this article is printed, I imagine I will have everyone I need. It feels like a miracle.”

The podcast is called “Mercy Unwrapped,” and it’s available on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and at her website. She has interviewed famous Catholics like Devin Rose, Mark Shea, Jennifer Fulwiler, Dawn Eden, Doug Beaumont and other authors and bloggers but also people who are not famous or well-known, including her own pastor, Father Gabriel Waweru.

“I have wept, I have laughed,” she said. “I have been very, very moved and choked up, and I have laughed hard — God is full of surprises.

“One thing that stands out — no matter what these people have gone through (and sometimes is is horrific) they are joyful as they speak about God’s mercy in the midst of suffering. That strikes me over and over again — the joy and the hope.”

She said sometimes the popular episodes are just the ordinary stories of mercy in a person’s life.

Franklin is working with a young producer in New York who does the audio editing and takes care of other production details. Each podcast runs about 30 minutes with an easy pace and a simple interview style that gives the guest room to speak without much interruption. Franklin said that’s by design. “It’s not about me. It’s about that person and his or her experience of the mercy of Jesus.”

She said she is very happy about the response, with more than 100 listens a week and growing and listeners from across the world — the Philippines, Italy, Portugal, Norway, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Japan. The Facebook fan page has more than 1,600 followers, many of them young people from Asian countries, she said.

“My blogs and ‘Mercy Unwrapped’ are going all over the world,” she said. “I always wanted to be a missionary. Guess God is allowing me to do that from Hibbing, Minnesota.”

Links to Franklin’s efforts on Facebook, Twitter and various podcasting outlets are available at her main website, www.catholicgrandma.com.