Objective questions will always hold sway in certain circles, but Julia Rocchi admires what replies to subjective inquiries can produce. Fond of finding layered topics to tackle as an asker and answerer, the Pennsylvania native will return to her home state on Sept. 24 to give a reading from and a workshop for her book “Amen? Questions for a God I Hope Exists.”  The workshop is in conjunction with the St. Paul Parish Women’s Spirituality Group.

“Given the times that we live in, I wonder if people are forgetting to focus on nuance when we look at our interactions with one another,” the North Wales native and Virginia resident said. “We should acknowledge the abundance of gray area because we’re walking the path together. I’m always going to be someone who invites exploring that depth because it breeds community and common care.”

Julia Rocchi

The award-winning author, whose commendations include first-place honors in the Saturday Evening Post’s 2018 Great American Fiction Contest, will be heading to the church hall of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi in South Philadelphia, a worship site of St. Paul Parish, for the inaugural workshop on the book’s material. Since its October 2022 publication, “Amen? Questions for a God I Hope Exists,” has proven productive for many readers, Rocchi explained, in their quest for guidance in this often-perplexing world.

“We have so many questions we can pose as we seek motivation and resolve,” Rocchi said, giving a nod to “Why am I here?” and “What am I put on this earth for?” as the most deliberate offerings. “We shouldn’t shy away from tough conversations since they’re the ones that lead to growth.”

Her 314-page brainchild, which her website, dubs as “a collection of prayers and essays for practicing penitents and devoted doubters,” finds the scribe being a disciple of diligence, using each element to address how hesitancy often mingles with growth as we attempt to encounter God. Teeming with ruminations on not only her journey, but also the combined walk that we all make, perhaps even endure, the publication took its inspiration from a blog that Rocchi launched in 2008. The title makes evident that having qualms about how God is interceding for us does not preclude someone from fostering an active and deeply felt faith.

“This is not the book for you if you want certainty because a thread of questioning, which comes from the nature of my blog posts, runs through it,” Rocchi said. “However, if you grapple with large issues, it’s perfect for you.”

“Graceful musings, prayers, and poems,” according to her website, constitute “Amen? Questions for a God I Hope Exists,” which, at its heart, looks to show readers that while some people might feel that questions indicate weakness, they truly strengthen us. Rocchi will use that realization as a core component of the Sept. 24 event, with the women’s spirituality group earning the hosting honors, in part, because her parents, Marie and Pat, belong to St. Paul’s Parish as actively engaged members.

“We’re never going to be short on questions,” Rocchi said, noting that the “fertile soil” of parenting that she and husband Matthew O’Donnell are tending to with their two young children, has come to be another source of intense consideration. “I want to think that goes for hope, too.”

The workshop is open to women only. Copies of the book are available for $10 each. To make a purchase, contact Kathleen Cullinan at st.paul.philly.womenspirituality@gmail.com.