Heidi Haverkamp is a writer, spiritual director, and Episcopal priest. In 2019, she won two awards from the Church Associated Press for her article “How I learned to love the doctrine of total depravity” in The Christian Century. Previous books include Everyday Connections: Reflections and Practices for Year C, Advent in Narnia (2015) and Holy Solitude (2017). She received her M.Div. from The University of Chicago Divinity School in 2006. She writes an occasional newsletter, Letters from a Part-time Hermit. She grew up in Chicago and now lives in Indianapolis with her husband.
More about me
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, in Hyde Park. I attended kindergarten at Bret Harte Academy and grade school at St. Thomas the Apostle. My family attended a Protestant congregation, Hyde Park Union Church. I went to MacWillies Day Camp at the Chicago Laboratory Schools, and ran my own tiny day camp for two years: HaverCamp. I went to Catholic girls high school: first, Academy of the Sacred Heart, where my mother was a teacher, then after it closed in 1993, its sister school, Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest. I majored in English at the College of Wooster in central Ohio, and studied abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland. After college, I worked on a couple organic farms, alongside adults with mental illness, as pastor of a rural congregation in New England, and as a legal assistant at Pugh, Jones, and Johnson, LLC, a minority-owned Chicago corporate law office.
When I moved back home to Hyde Park in 2001, I found myself in the pews of St. Paul and the Redeemer where I experienced a warm welcome and a strong call to ordained ministry. I finished my Master of Divinity at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2006, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies at Seabury Western Theological Seminary in 2007, now part of the Bexley-Seabury Federation. I was ordained a deacon, then a priest in 2007 in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. I worked at Trader Joe’s for a few weeks when my job search process seemed to be going nowhere.
My first call finally came in November 2007, as the “vicar” of a small congregation in the southwest Chicago suburbs. I spent nine years there, with the people of St. Benedict (Bolingbrook), which shaped me in many ways as a priest, a Christian, and a writer. For more of that story and some thoughts on the spiritual geography of strip malls and cornfields, explore the blog I kept from 2012-2016: The Vicar of Bolingbrook.
I started writing seriously in 2012, after being encouraged by friends and a writing workshop for pastors at the Collegeville Institute in Minnesota. I began writing for religious magazines and published two books with Westminster John Knox Press while working full-time in parish ministry.
In 2016, weeks after I became the Senior Associate Rector at St. Chrysostom’s (Chicago), my mother died unexpectedly during cancer treatment. This changed many things in my life and in 2017, I decided to leave parish ministry. I started pursue writing full-time. My husband and I moved to DeKalb, Illinois, where he could finish coursework on his Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University and we decided to gut-renovate a house. That was insane, but satisfying.
In 2020, we moved to Indianapolis, to be near a growing cluster of our good friends and pursue some other opportunities. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a new book series, called Everyday Connections, a year-long devotional for each of the three lectionary years (A, B, C), based on the excellent new sermon commentary series, Connections. I’ve started writing a newsletter (subscribe here!).
I also work as a spiritual director, meeting with folks to listen and talk about their spiritual questions, struggles, and wonderings. I completed a training and internship with the Claret Center in Chicago in 2019-2020. Contact me or look at this page if you’d like more information.
Lately, I’ve been finding a lot of life and liveliness in practicing insight meditation and studying Buddhism, especially the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, and writer Natalie Goldberg. It helps me feels closer to God. I did a seven-day silent retreat in July with Tri-State Dharma that was amazing. After so many years of my husband sitting in the pews of the parishes I led, I enjoy worshipping with him in his denomination these days, at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in downtown Indy.
I call myself a Part-Time Hermit because I have the most energy and zest for life when I spend most of my time alone. I love people but I do best when I’m around people in small numbers and doses. I used to think this was strange and wrong, but over time I’ve realized it’s just who I am. I try to use my solitude as a force for good in the world. When my friend, Sister Julia Walsh, interviewed me on her podcast I said something about how I’m a “part-time” hermit because I still go out to places like the grocery store – and she responded: “You really are a hermit if you consider going to the grocery store a social event!” We both laughed out loud.
I was honored to be quoted in an article about spirituality and solitude in The New York Times, “What We Can Learn from Solitude” in November 2020, because of my book Holy Solitude and a piece I wrote for a hermit newsletter called Raven’s Bread, edited by Paul and Karyn Fredette, featured prominently in that NYT article.
I also like to read, make dinner, take pictures, do yoga, go for walks, and delight in my niece and nephews. I’ve been married to minister, geographer, programmer, and photographer Adam Frieberg since 2008.