Meet Catherine Marshall

By the time Catherine Marshall graduated from high school, the Depression had devastated the American economy. The effects were reflected in her father's salary as pastor of a small church. She had been accepted at Agnes Scott College [in Atlanta], but the family was still hundreds of dollars short of her tuition needs. One evening her mother found her lying across her bed, sobbing. "She sat down beside me and said, 'You and I are going to deal with this right now . . . I know it's right for you to go to college. Every problem has a solution. Let's ask God to tell us how to bring this dream to reality.' And I prayed, 'Lord, I turn this dream over to You. I give it up. It's in Your hands.' " This first moment of youthful honesty set the tone for her entire life. "I was learning that the price of a relationship with [God] is a dropping of all our masks and pretense. We must come to Him with stark honesty 'as we are' or not at all."

Catherine went to Agnes Scott College. And it was there she met and married Peter Marshall on November 4, 1936. She was only twenty-three when they moved to Washington, D.C., where Peter became pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Peter Jon, their only son, was born in January 1940. By then, her husband's reputation as a deeply committed man of God was growing. Congressmen, senators, and people from all walks of life attended worship services at his church, and Peter was appointed chaplain to the U.S. Senate.

Then, at the height of their ministry, Catherine was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Fighting depression through three years of illness and often isolation, her journal became her spiritual solace where she recorded her talks with God and the hope he faithfully provided. "Day by day, God was the teacher and I, the pupil. I would need Him every day for the rest of my life and more, throughout eternity." When Peter Marshall died suddenly in 1949, God again provided the hope and unending grace she needed. " 'Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life,' was His personal pledge to me and to a son who would now sorely miss his father."

Catherine Marshall's many books are familiar to readers of all ages. A Man Called Peter (her husband's biography), Mr. Jones, and Meet the Master (a collection of Peter Marshall's sermons and prayers) have all become classics. Her most well-known writing, however, is the best-selling novel Christy, about her mother, Leonora Whitaker [Christy], who left her comfortable home in Asheville, North Carolina, to live and teach at the Presbyterian mission in Morgan Branch [Cutter Gap], Tennessee. Catherine Marshall died in 1983.

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