Meet my parents,
Adeline & Ward Irish
Celebrating our fourth and
final child’s wedding!

Mary Jo Thayer

Author.   Public Speaker.   Educator.   Mentor.

I love God, people, sports, mountains, and coastlines.

Welcome! I’m glad you’re here and hope to meet you in person one day. The life of every human being fascinates me. We all have tales to tell. 

I’m Mary Jo, a natural extrovert and people lover. I’ve been that way since I made my world debut into a huge Catholic family as the eighth of eight children. I have been surrounded by infants and the elderly and all the ages in between my entire life. The things I have observed while growing up and growing old deserve to be told. They are just too rich for me to keep to myself. 

You will see that everything I author is woven with relatable characters and a wee bit of pedagogy because the teacher comes out of me even when I’m not expecting her.  I was born to be an educator and a mom, which is the life path I chose in kindergarten, believe it or not. Well, except for that fleeting notion in second grade about becoming a nun. 

My husband, our children, and grandkids are likely to grab the lion’s share of my attention, and certainly my prayers, but the doors to our home are known to swing wide for friends, clergy, and people we hardly know. 

I married my high school sweetheart straight out of college, with John still having several semesters to complete for his degree. We started out in a tiny mobile home in a rural college town, where he graduated in the midst of a tanking Michigan economy. We ended up finding jobs–in Virginia! Four children, four in-laws, and several grandchildren later, we have hiked and have prayed in some of the most beautiful locations in the United States, Mexico, Australia, France, Hawaii, Thailand, Spain, Portugal, and the Caribbean. God has spoiled us Thayers.

Thank you for coming along on life’s journey with me!


Mary Jo Thayer’s early life experiences gave her a heart for education and empathy, the combination of which was her springboard for earning two degrees in the field of teaching. Her humor, joy, and large doses of reality have encouraged hundreds of students of all ages to follow the true calling of their hearts and consciences. 

She has contributed to several books and periodicals about education, hospitality, and motherhood. Her column “Confessions of a Homeschooler” was distributed through Catholic Homeschooling in Hawaii. She has been the keynote speaker at events for both adults and teens, women’s retreats, Legatus chapters, Theology of the Body conferences, Fortnight for Freedom, and twice on the steps of the Michigan state capitol. 

After teaching in all arenas, Mary Jo semi-retired from mid-Michigan to West Michigan, where she quickly began a women’s book study group that has drawn members from several Grand Rapids parishes. She also mentors women throughout the U.S. and is always at the ready to share her zeal for natural and moral law. Her open classroom of love goes wherever she goes. 

Water skiing, hiking, traveling, and grandchildren are her primary fun activities. She is married to her high school sweetheart, John, and together they raised their cherished family—sans pets—with faith, courage, and enthusiasm in beautiful, season-rich Michigan. 

Mary Jo is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Catholic Writers’ Guild. Close to the Soul is her first novel.