From the Abbey is basically the work of Jeff Arrowood with lots of support from many friends and family members. Below you can read a brief history of the creation of From the Abbey and the concepts for Brother Thomas and Brother Martin. You can also read the "curriculum vitae" for Jeff Arrowood.
In July of 1996, Jeff Arrowood was hired to teach moral theology, Advanced Placement United States History, psychology, and literature at Columbus Catholic High School. While certified in the other subject areas, the only qualification Jeff had to teach theology was that he taught religious education and had retreat experience in college. So Jeff went back to school and received a Master's Degree in Theological Studies from the Institute of Pastoral Theology through the University of Dallas. Jeff taught at Columbus Catholic High School for ten years. In that time, thanks to the wonderful Catholic atmosphere of the school, Jeff matured as a teacher and earned the respect of his students and colleagues as a talented teacher with great theological knowledge & authentic rapport with students, who could teach students how to think, not just what to memorize. Jeff earned the Marshfield Teacher of the Year Award and the Crystal Apple Teacher of Distinction Award, both student-nominated awards.
Meanwhile, Jeff's love for reading led him to begin selling books in 2003 so that he would stop buying them. He joined forces with a couple who had been selling books at Catholic conferences and out of their home under the name F.A.I.T.H. Matters. The "F.A.I.T.H." acronym stood for "Faith Abiding In The Home," and the focus of the apostolate was to equip Catholic families in their quest for orthodoxy and holiness. In less than a year, that family decided to focus more on their family and less on business, so they sold F.A.I.T.H. Matters to Jeff. Through F.A.I.T.H. Matters, Jeff sold books at Catholic conferences in the Diocese of La Crosse and at Living Catholic Seminars near Milwaukee. He also made a series of abortive efforts to expand the apostolic work of F.A.I.T.H. Matters, but demands of high school teaching captured most of his time.
As a moral theology teacher, Jeff had a difficult time finding a textbook in moral theology that was academically challenging & theologically solid but also accessible to students. One summer, he decided to take matters into his own hands and write his own textbook. Inspired by John Paul II's call for catechists to use a dialectic (question-answer) model of teaching, Jeff decided to write the textbook in the framework of a written correspondence between a teenager and a Dominican religious brother. Brother Thomas was born with the Dear Brother Thomas textbook. Jeff used his textbook with his students with great success. He used this time to revise, rewrite and edit the text.
In February of 2006 Jeff and his wife adopted a baby girl and Jeff made the difficult decision to stay home and be a stay-at-home father. To his great joy, not only does Jeff enjoy parenting, but his time at home gives him the time to do the reading, writing, and gardening that he didn't have the chance to do as a teacher. Desiring to continue serving Christ as a teacher, Jeff decided it was time to focus on his apostolate. He started expanding his book sales business and planning for a web site. Since "Faith Matters" is used by many Christian groups and projects, Jeff decided to find a name that better fit the work he wanted to do through his apostolate. After much thought, he decided to go with the "Brother Thomas" theme and create an abbey motif for his web site, and From the Abbey was born.