by Jessica Langdon
LEAWOOD — Avid runners Caroline and Emily Thompson have logged many miles together, and the sisters have covered a lot of ground during those long runs.
“Somehow we’d always get into these big talks or philosophical conversations — just deeper things, like ‘What is our purpose?’” said 21-year-old Caroline.
As she and Emily, 24, grew up, they explored some tough questions together.
Things like — “How do we keep being normal teenage girls, having fun, but living to our true potential?”
From their days in grade school at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, through St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, Mo., and then their college years at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., the two have shared much of their lives with each other.
And have had each other to lean on when the going got tough.
But sometimes they wondered where other girls turned to for a sounding board on living as a Catholic in today’s world.
It wasn’t until last fall, when Caroline was studying abroad in Ireland, that she and Emily realized how important their ongoing conversation about life had become to them.
They really missed their regular conversations and craved that sisterhood connection.
Emily, who had graduated in 2012, was already back in Kansas City.
Communicating via Facebook, the sisters hit on the idea of starting a blog.
Both had blogged before while traveling, and that accessible and inexpensive avenue seemed like a natural way to invite others into the conversation.
“If we’re learning from it, maybe other people could, too,” said Emily.
They launched their “Princess Prayer” blog in December 2012.
“In this blog, we offer to you the musings, antics, stories, prayers, questions, reflections and challenges of two young women trying to live out their faith,” they wrote, introducing themselves.
“We don’t have all the answers,” assured Emily.
But they’re willing to seek information — and this seemed like a great way to dig deeper into their faith.
Daughters of the King
When they decided on the “Princess Prayer” title, they weren’t referring to Disney movies or fairy tales, but rather to their place as princesses because they’re daughters of God, the king.
“Living as a princess of God means striving to grow in holiness and becoming the woman that God intended you to be,” explain the authors. “What does that mean in our daily lives? Well, that’s what this blog is all about! It’s not an easy road, but we can endure its trials when we travel it together.”
The theme builds on an idea Emily and Caroline encountered — first as campers, and later as staff members — at Camp Kateri Tekakwitha at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
A camp tradition calls for the community to recognize women each Wednesday. Female staff members gather for a Bible study, and the sisters found the reflections “extremely rewarding and helpful.”
Inspired by that, Caroline and Emily update the blog every Wednesday.
Recent posts have touched on everything from keeping friends who don’t share the same beliefs, to living the single life well, to dressing modestly — yet fashionably — for the summer.
They even researched why some women wear veils to Mass (answering a question one of their guy friends asked — and yes, they have male readers, which they encourage).
To address the veil question, they turned to a fellow Camp Tekakwitha staffer who has worn one.
The bloggers also quote insights from a wide network of expert sources, from priests and campus ministers to Jason and Crystalina Evert, who are authors and well-known presenters on the topic of chastity.
Catholic education and camp fed Emily and Caroline’s faith, but the seeds were planted much earlier — at home.
They are two of five children — three girls and two boys — of Paul and Mary Thompson.
“We feel that the relationship between our parents — and the family life that has come from it — has been our first foundation in faith,” said Emily. “More than anything we read or that we heard in church, the first thing was that we saw it.
“We saw a love between our parents. We saw a love between our siblings.”
Deborah Near- myer, camp director and director of faith formation at St. James Academy in Lenexa, easily picked up on the Thompsons’ witness to family life.
“Caroline and Emily are two young women whose love for their family and their faith has inspired their junior high, high school, college and career colleagues,” she said.
Her husband, Deacon Dana Near- myer, is the lead archdiocesan consultant for evangelization and Catholic formation of youth, and he is excited to see the young women reaching out.
“Faith-filled young voices like Caroline and Emily are critical to the new evangelization because young people need beacons of Christ’s grace and goodness that speak the ancient truths in language of today about the subjects that they care about,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
To decide on those subjects, the women examine their own lives, pull ideas from their readers, and ask for thoughts from their 15-year-old sister Meg.
‘What I needed to hear’
Luke Doyle, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, got to know the Thompsons at Camp Tekakwitha.
Doyle, now in his second year of theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, has passed their blog on to some of the women in his life.
“Our culture practically screams to the women of our world that in order to be beautiful and able to be loved, they have to fit the right measurements, dress a certain way, or act in a certain manner,” he said. “I believe Emily and Caroline’s blog should be shared with the women of our generation because it promotes and upholds the truth that all women are beautifully and wonderfully made, and that they have been given a sacred and priceless gift to live their lives as beloved daughters of the King.”
The bloggers are constantly brainstorming elements to add, and they’ve found the feedback touching.
“Some girls will Facebook message us or text us things like, ‘That post was just what I needed to hear,’” said Emily.
More than anything, they want people to join the conversation and know they’re not alone.
“We just want girls to know they are allowed and encouraged to ask themselves these questions,” said Caroline. “It is possible to have a faith life and also have a Twitter account and watch a sitcom and live your life and go out on the weekend with your friends.”
Spread the message
Caroline and Emily Thompson’s “Princess Prayer” blog can be found online at: www.myprincessprayer.wordpress.com.