Franciscan University of Steubenville is hosting the Encounter Young Adult Conference in St. Louis (May 30-June 1) this year. Sr. Miriam James Heidland, from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity will be a speaker at the conference. The CatholicMatch Institute spoke to Sr. Miriam about her role as a speaker and how Catholics can hear God’s call over the noises of the world.
You are a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Can you tell us about your order and what makes your community unique?
I belong to a missionary community that was founded in 1958 by Fr. James Flanagan (who is still alive and will turn 90 next week). Our community is particularly unique because we are made up of priests, brothers, deacons, sisters and laity. We serve together in teams witnessing to the Most Holy Trinity—three persons in one God. We are three vocations in one family and community of God.
You went to University of Nevada on a volleyball scholarship, are you still able to play with the sisters in your community?
I still love sports of all kinds and play volleyball every now and then with various adult teams. It’s a lot of fun.
You entered the convent after a profound conversion. Can you tell us about this experience and recommend what young Catholics can do to answer God’s call?
I encountered God’s love over the course of several years in college which led to a deep conversion that is still ongoing! Conversion is a daily walk with Jesus Christ. In college, I engaged in a lot of broken behavior that led to a deep unhappiness in my heart. On the surface, it seemed like I had everything the world says you should have to be happy, but the reality was that I was very empty and broken. I was yearning for something “more,” but I just didn’t know what it was.
Staying close to God and having good authentic friends to walk through life with is so important in being able to hearing God’s call. We can’t do it alone and when we are stuck in addiction and dark sin, it’s hard to answer the call of God because we usually can’t hear it.
You will be speaking at the Encounter Young Adult Conference at the end of the month, what topic will you be speaking about?
I will be speaking on communication and how God communicates with us, and I will also be holding a workshop on our desire for intimacy and healing of sexual brokenness.
You talk a lot about how the faith shouldn’t be watered down. How will the Encounter Young Adult Conference help people to understand their faith more deeply and to “live an authentic discipleship?”
There will be so many chances over the weekend to encounter Jesus through the sacraments, worship, speakers, and workshops; as well as a lot of other amazing young adults who will be there sharing the weekend together!
You also talk about “egocentric love” common in today’s society. How can young Catholics overcome that and love in the way God intends us to?
We learn to love by looking at Jesus. He gives Himself totally and completely out of love for us. His love is not based on what He “feels like” or what He personally gets out of it. His love is complete in good times and bad, in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow and lasts for all eternity. He teaches us how to love and He is our model. Studying Scripture and John Paul II’s work, “Theology of the Body” will have a profound impact on your life.
What would you say to a young Catholic who is considering coming to the Encounter Young Adult Conference, but needs some encouragement?
I would say, “come and see!” You will meet a lot of great people over the weekend, hear some great music, and encounter Jesus in a brand new way.
For more information on the conference, which will be held in St. Charles, Missouri on May 30-June 1 visit Encounter’s website.