Body of Christ

Danielle Heckenkamp’s grandmother told her to make time for the things she loved — so as a young mom, she made time for writing. Today, her work has been published widely across Catholic media, giving voice to her love of faith, family and discipleship.

—The oldest of four children, Heckenkamp grew up in the Milwaukee area and attended Brookfield Academy through high school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

— She is a mother of six and belongs to St. Stanislaus Oratory in Milwaukee, where she is active in a variety of ministries, including parish council, catechism classes and the American Heritage Girls Troop.

Has faith always been a big part of your life?

I am a cradle Catholic, and the faith has always been an integral part of my life. From a young age, I contemplated the religious life, but God sent me my wonderful husband when I was in college and my vocation became clear. My family always kept the Catholic faith an important part of our lives. My grandparents and parents have all been great examples to encourage me and my siblings on how to grow spiritually and hold on to the Catholic faith.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

From a young age, I loved writing and reading. The character of Anne Shirley in “Anne of Green Gables” helped me fall in love with writing and teaching. My childhood dreams always included teaching and writing books. My writing took a backseat after college, when I was working as a paralegal at a law firm, but with the birth of our first child, I began writing again. Inspiration came more fluidly with the new path of motherhood. It was a new step in my spiritual journey also.

How did your writing career begin?

I knew that my time to write was limited, so I started submitting short articles to a variety of sites. I’ll never forget when Catholic Mom accepted me as a contributing writer in 2017. I was so excited. My work has also been published in Her View From Home, The Catholic Woman, Joyful Messes, The Catholic Exchange and Crisis Magazine. With the publication of those articles, I have also been requested on several radio shows, including Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air” and “Trending with Timmerie” and Respect Life Radio.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My writing topics are based on personal inspirations or events that I have experienced or others have experienced. I’m so grateful for the gift of writing — I love when my pieces resonate with readers, and I have met some amazing people through this community.

What do you like to do in your free time?

This probably isn’t a surprise, but I love to read in my spare time. It could be anything from spiritual books, dystopian literature, classical literature and even The Federalist Papers. My favorites authors are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Wilke Collins, L.M. Montgomery and Louisa M. Alcott — that’s my short list. I also love to go antique shopping with dear friends. I love history, and antiques offer the opportunity to appreciate the stories from previous generations. But my all-time favorite thing to do in my free time is spending time at home with my husband, children and friends, specifically around the dinner table. I love to cook and it’s an honor to make dinner and share stories with others around the dinner table.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled?

My favorite place is Portugal. I received an amazing high school graduation gift from my parents: my dad and I spent two weeks in Portugal and visited Fatima, Lisbon, Braga and Porto. My dad’s father was 100 percent Portuguese, and those roots are very dear to me, especially Our Lady of Fatima.

If you could invite any saint over for dinner, who would it be and what would you ask them?

If I could invite saints to dinner, it would be St. Francis de Sales and St. Catherine of Siena. Is it any surprise that they were both writers? I would love to ask them at what point did they realize they had a gift for writing and did they ever fight against that talent before recognizing it brought glory to God?

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

It was from my grandma, who said, “Make time for the things you love. And the more you give of yourself the more your love will multiply for others and ultimately, for perfect union with God. There’s no limit to love – it’s infinite.”

What kind of music do you like?

I love several genres of music — I grew up attending the opera several times a season. My father has the ability to listen to a piece of classical music and immediately know the composer. I am a pianist, so I have a deep love for classical music. However, I appreciate bluegrass, folk music, jazz, swing music and country.

What’s your favorite movie?

My two favorite movies (tied) are “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Good News.” Both are oldies but goodies.