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An Interview with Miriam Westen

Gordon: What are the parishes that you attend and how do they address your spirituality?

Miriam: I attend about 10 different parishes regularly; since daily Mass is essential for my spirituality. Saint Pope John Paul II said to youth in 1997: “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world.” However, since I am involved in many activities I try to find Mass times and locations that enable me to attend on a daily basis. I am a member of the German speaking parish, St. Albertus, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where I help with the Children’s liturgy. In Barry’s Bay, I attend St. Hedwig’s Parish, where I lead a children’s choir. Also, nearby, to me in Ottawa, is the Saint Jean Baptiste,,a French language parish run by the Dominican order.The Basilica of St. Patrick’s in Ottawa provides 4 Masses per day with confession before every weekday Mass; thus, I often attend here and go to weekly confession. While, studying at the University of St. Paul, I attend their daily Masses and play the organ. All these parishes and the others I attend address help me in my relationship with Jesus who gave us the Mass at the Last Supper and said, “Do this in memory of me.”

Gordon: When did you found Catholic News World and what is your mission?

Miriam: I founded in 2009 under the name of Jesus Caritas Est after a meeting at the Vatican where I participated. The mission is to spread the love of Jesus; and was especially inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est. This is accomplished by publishing prayers, the daily Holy Mass and daily Saint. We prefer to publish full text releases of actual events rather than opinion stories. Also, we try to bring Catholic news from all continents around the globe to make people aware of the Universal Church and encourage them to pray for God’s family in other nations.

Gordon: What social media resources does Catholic News World find most effective?

Miriam: Facebook has been the most effective tool for social media. But we try to use as many social media as possible to reach as many people as possible. So, we have a Linkedin account, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and several Facebook pages.

Gordon: What social media resources would you recommend that all parishes should have?

Miriam: I would recommend that parishes research the most popular social media sites with the greatest percentage of people that are existent at the present time. Then, I would recommend they use as many as possible for the needs of its members and to encourage others. If a parishes is smaller perhaps only 1 or 2 are necessary but if a larger parish it is good to use as many as possible. So, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are probably the most important in today’s world. But, others are also being used like Pinterest, What’s Up App, etc… Bishop Robert Barron said of social media: “I think truly, it's a miracle of God's Providence that we have these tools, precisely at this moment, when so many are leaving the Church.”

Gordon: You are a musician and a choir director. How can music enhance spirituality?

Miriam: I think music is an important way to enhance spirituality. Pope Francis said in November 2018, “ So help to express joy, trust, repentance, love ... Singing is a language that leads to the communion of hearts…” at the Vatican. Statistics show that people are very interested in music, sadly, perhaps more than in religion. Music has a unique power to move hearts even when there are no words in a song. Thus, music when used for God has the power to bring people closer to God. However, music is a tool that can also be used for the opposite effect. Choirs in Churches are especially a way to aid spirituality since they bring together members of God’s family to sing for God. The words used in hymns and chant are prayers that are enhanced through song.

Gordon: What is you opinion were the three most important Catholic news stories on 2018

Miriam: The most read stories on were, sadly, about priests being murdered in various countries. Here is an example: “6 Priests and Several People Killed and Churches Burned in Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia l . I think one of the most important Catholic stories was Pope Francis’ Letter to the People of God; where he addressed the abuse crisis: “Pope Francis FULL TEXT Letter "May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled." However, also noteworthy, was “The Oldest Nun in the World Dies at Age 110 - RIP Sister Cecylia Roszak - a Nun who Saved Jews during WWI”

Gordon: What initially interested you in becoming a Pro Life advocate>?

Miriam: My pro-life activity was inspired by my father who always attended the March for Life. Being involved in the lives of my 16 nieces and nephews, and watching them grow from babies to adults, has shown me the sanctity of life. Also, I have taken care of several family members during their illnesses and death. Watching, my elderly relatives struggles with sickness and passing through from life to death has help me in my pro-life witness.

Gordon: What impact will the new abortion legislation have in Ireland

Miriam: I think this is a time of trial for the people of Ireland; not only Catholics but those from other faiths and for those who, even without faith, realize the sanctity of life. If these groups come together they can help each other cope with the new legislation and develop strategies to uphold life.

Gordon: What role should women have in addressing the Catholic sexual abuse crisis?

Miriam: I think women have an important role to play in addressing the abuse crisis. Primarily, the role of everyone in combating this crisis is prayer. But also, concrete measures of abuse prevention need to be taken. Furthermore, women can also help in the way the Church deals with perpetrators and victims. There is now a dual role to play in terms of how to handle the members of the Church who committed these crimes and to help and sympathize with the victims of these crimes.

Gordon: We are sharing one of you videos in closing this interview Luminous by Miriam Westen


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