Braestrup, Kate 1952(?)–

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Braestrup, Kate 1952(?)–


Born c. 1952; married Drew Griffith (a Maine State Police Trooper; deceased 1996); married Simon van der Ven; children: (first marriage) four; two stepchildren. Education: Graduated from Georgetown University; attended Bangor Theological Seminary. Religion: Unitarian Universalist.


Home— Lincolnville, ME.


Ordained minister, 2004—; Maine Warden Service, chaplain; Rockland Church community minister, 2004—.


Onion, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.

Here If You Need Me: A True Story, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals including Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope, and Law and Order.


Kate Braestrup is an ordained minister of the Unitarian Universalist church and serves as both a community minister for the Rockland Church and as a member of the Maine Warden Service, for which she performs the duties of chaplain. Her relationship with the church began in 1991, when she and her husband discovered the parish in Rockland. At the time they were searching for specific parameters in a religion for themselves and their four children and were not certain they would be able to find them. The Unitarian Universalist denomination served their needs perfectly. When her husband, a state police trooper, was killed in an automobile accident in 1996, Braestrup turned to religion to get her through the difficult days that followed. Her relationship to the church deepened, and Braestrup's interest in religion eventually led her to attend the Bangor Theological Seminary. While she was still a student, she was approached and asked to become the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, due to her ties to the organization through her late husband's position. Also, her experiences with grieving made her that much more sympathetic to someone's feelings when they lose a loved one, an asset for the position. In an interview with Donald E. Skinner for the UU World Web site, Braestrup explained: "I knew about being suddenly deprived of someone you love and about that literal fall to the floor and then the getting up again. When I talk to families I can share that. I can tell them that I know they will rise again." Braestrup also believes that her own denomination puts her in a position to relate to people of many different branches of religion, as she understands and celebrates diversity of belief.

In addition to her religious duties, Braestrup is an accomplished writer who has penned both freelance articles and books. Her work has appeared in periodicals including Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope, and Law and Order. Her first book, the novel Onion, was released in 1990, and her next offering, the memoir Here If You Need Me: A True Story, was published in 2007. In the latter work, Braestrup shares her experiences with her readers, going back to the hardship of losing her husband suddenly and violently, and how she managed to pick herself back up, support her children, and put the pieces of her life together. She addresses her gradual growth through faith, and describes how she felt the calling to give back to her church and to the belief system that enabled her to continue moving forward in the face of painful loss and adversity. She also chronicles her experiences working for the Maine Warden Service, including some of the more painful things she has witnessed, such as snowmobile crashes, searches for lost hikers, and drownings. Her role in these scenes is to provide comfort to anyone who survives the accidents, or, in the face of tragic loss, to support and comfort the wardens themselves. Working so close to law enforcement in this way ties her religious vocation back to her initial interest in the legal process. Norah Piehl, in a review for the Faithful Reader Web site, remarked: "Although Braestrup's book is ostensibly a memoir, most of the individual chapters read more like well-crafted essays, meditations on aspects of recovery, questions of faith and everyday expressions of bravery." Critics also praised the book for its lack of preaching to its readers. Seattle Times Online reviewer Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett said of Braestrup: "She isn't selling her own gospel; she's praying and thinking her way through the Down East wilderness, hunting answers and reporting on her finds with rare humility." Nancy Almand, writing for Library Journal, declared the book "moving, clever, and funny."



Braestrup, Kate,Here If You Need Me: A True Story, Little Brown (New York, NY), 2007.


Entertainment Weekly, August 17, 2007, Karen Valby, "Kate Braestrup," p. 75; August 17, 2007, Jennifer Reese, "Leap of Faith," p. 74.

Good Housekeeping, August, 2007, "To Lift Your Spirits," p. 168.

Library Journal, May 1, 1990, Kimberly G. Allen, review of Onion, p. 111; April 15, 2007, Nancy Almand, review of Here If You Need Me: A True Story, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, December 15, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of Onion, p. 56; April 23, 2007, review of Here If You Need Me, p. 46.

USA Today, May 3, 2007, "You'll Laugh, You'll Buy …," p. 5; August 9, 2007, Jacqueline Blais, "‘Here If You Need Me’ Tells How Tragedy Transformed a Life," p. 5.


Boston Globe Online, (July 27, 2007), Jerry Harkavy, "Memoir Traces Grieving Widow's Path to Warden Service Ministry."

Faithful Reader Web site, (November 11, 2007), Norah Piehl, review of Here If You Need Me.

Hachette Book Group Web site, (November 11, 2007), author profile.

Looking for Faith Web site, (August 31, 2007), review of Here If You Need Me.

MSNBC Web site, (August 22, 2007), Joel Page, "Husband's Dream Leads a Widow to Service."

MyShelf Web site, (November 11, 2007), Sarah Bewley, review of Here If You Need Me.

Seattle Times Online, (August 31, 2007), Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, review of Here If You Need Me.

UU Rockland Web site, (November 11, 2007), Kate Braestrup profile.

UU World Web site, (November 11, 2007), Donald E. Skinner, "Chaplain in the Wilderness."

Washington Post Online, (August 29, 2007), Jane Ciabattari, "Just a Closer Hike with Thee."