Book Review: “Gifts from Friends We’ve Yet to Meet” by Virginia Herbers 

by Steve Givens, executive director

Virginia Herbers’ 2021 book, “Gifts from Friends We’ve Yet to Meet: A Memoir of Biblical Encounters” (Liturgical Press) is a brief masterpiece in storytelling. In true Ignatian form, Herbers brings to life the nameless characters from eight gospel stories, each revealing an important and applicable lesson for our own lives of faith. Along the way, she pulls from the deep treasure of her own life to offer powerful and honest stories that illuminate the ongoing movement and indwelling of God in her life, offering us inspiration for our own awareness of God’s work in us. 

It’s a perfect circle of storytelling, reflection, and deeper awareness, leading us (hopefully) to telling our own stories. That aspect of the book makes it a wonderful choice for reflection and sharing by a small faith group or book club. 

Fr. Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, writes of the book: “Through the tender and vulnerable stories of her own life, Herbers introduces us to the tender and vulnerable people of the Gospel, who in turn introduce us to the One who consecrates all our stories.” 

The book is filled with delightful, “read out loud” moments from her own life when God showed up and made the divine presence and will perfectly known. These moments include her experience as a young woman sitting on a stone wall in a church parking lot and receiving from a stranger the “grandmotherly” wisdom she so needed at that moment, as well as my favorite of the bunch, a divine encounter with St. Louis Cardinal’s mascot Fredbird, “the biggest, fattest Cardinal a girl could ask for.” You’ll have to read the book to appreciate the context and receive the full impact of the story. 

That Virginia Herbers is a gifted storyteller and teacher won’t come as a surprise to anyone in the Bridges community who had the opportunity to hear her two presentations at our Magis meeting in January 2023. Luckily for us, she will return next September 16 to speak again, this time on “Ignatius’ Life and the Exercises” and “Images of God.”

She will also be the guest on the next episode of “Bridges Conversations” on Facebook Live at noon on Friday, May 5. We’ll be talking about this book and about the challenges and opportunities of living the gifts of the Spiritual Exercises in our everyday lives, sometimes referred to as “The Fifth Week.” 

For more information on Virginia or the book, visit:

Have you read a recent book about (or at least touching on) Ignatian spirituality or the Spiritual Exercises? Let us know what you thought. Send your review to: