Interview with Erica Campbell on Befriending Mary

This interview is the first in our four-part Befriending Mary series for the month of May. Learn more about the series here.


About Erica

Erica (Tighe) Campbell is the designer and owner of Be A Heart –– a design studio based out of Los Angeles, California. Erica shares her own story of life, death and resurrection to encourage other women to step into the freedom and light of a life with Christ. Erica received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from DePaul University in Chicago and served as a missionary for 18 months in Brazil with Heart’s Home. She is newly married to her husband, Paul who is teaching her about the joys of slow living and bird watching!

Read Erica’s letter Cultivating Communities of Compassion here.

What's your favorite title for Mary?

I don’t think I have just one! Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Aparecida and Our Lady of Fatima are my favorites! 

Tell us about your relationship with Mary: When did you start getting to know her? How has she interceded or shown up for you? What's your relationship like with her today?

My dad spent part of his childhood living in Mexico City so Our Lady of Guadalupe was always present in our home. When I was 14, we went to the Basilica on a huge family trip for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. I had never seen anything like it and I was so struck by the miracle of Saint Juan Diego. I remember praying in the churches there and something shifting in me.  

In high school, I made these little prayer cards of all of the mysteries of the Rosary (because I have a really terrible memory) and I would pray a decade at a time throughout the day, every day.  

I remember our family was going through a really rough time. I didn’t know what to do with myself and while everyone was running around in a panic, I paced in the front yard praying Hail Marys. She was my solace and I never forget that.

Then there was a time in college that I didn’t even remember how to pray the rosary. And as I look back on it, she never left me. The night before my grad school interview, I had this strange moment as I fell asleep remembering a missionary group that I had wanted to volunteer for years back. Long story short, that night changed the trajectory of my life. Heart’s Home, the group I lived with in Brazil, models itself after Mary at the foot of the cross.

In Brazil, I met Our Lady of Aparecida. The Brazilian people have such a love and devotion for her, much like we do with Our Lady of Guadalupe. She was a real solace for my friends.

That’s what I love about Mary! She meets all people, everywhere.

Then I really didn’t know anything about Our Lady of Fatima, but I heard it was going to be 100 years since she appeared. So, I thought to myself “she might like to be remembered with a miracle for her 100th anniversary, I’ll pray a novena to meet my husband.” I had prayed like 50 novenas prior to this for the same intention and hadn’t met him yet. I did it without much conviction but also learned about Fatima through this.

Lo and behold, I met my now husband on May 13, 2017 - 100 years since the day she appeared in Fatima.

When we got engaged in January 2018 and picked a wedding venue, the only date available in all of 2018 was December 8 - what I realized after putting our deposit in, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

So many little things that remind me of the care she has for me in all the little details. 

The Church tells us to look Mary for encouragement to become all that God has made us to be. What aspect of Mary's humanity (or one of her virtues) resonates most with you or inspires you?

I remember the first time someone pointed out to me how young Mary was when she was pregnant with Jesus. I imagine how not ready she was for that. How she was in a stage of life probably trying to figure some things out. Who she was. What she wanted. And God came to her and gave her this great mission. And she in her humanity was able to say yes! It was her true self - to be the mother of God. She didn’t have to do anything but to say yes! 

And then the other thing that I love is that she is a presence. A presence in her son’s life. She cannot take the suffering from him, but she kneels next to the cross. She is there for him in his greatest need by just being present. I really hope and pray that I can be a presence (or a heart) in the suffering of others. 


Mary has been a popular subject for artists for centuries. What's your favorite image of her?

Our Lady of Guadalupe since she was divinely illustrated on Juan Diego’s tilma!

How has Mary helped strengthen your faith and bring you closer to Christ?

Jesus’s existence made Mary who she was meant to be. Jesus helped complete who she already was. And like her Jesus helps me to be who I am meant to be. As I draw near to Him, I am more myself. With His grace, I become more myself. And as I am more myself, I bring more grace into the world thus making it more beautiful just like Mary made the world more beautiful by her existence.

At Be a Heart, you’ve shared that Mary has been a big influence on your recent work. Tell us more!

Her mystery, her beauty and elegance and constant presence in the lives of so many cultures - meeting them where they are - is such an inspiration to me. My creative process generally just comes out of my own personal experience and stage of life and she seems to always be there! 

Her image and presence is so essential in our homes and lives and so I love being a hand to bring her into the little things - whether a bandana we can wear as an accessory or a paper plate that a mom can serve her child pancakes on and talk about who she is and what her mothering friendship can do in our lives!

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