Two years ago, as the pandemic pushed people into social isolation, the Diocese of Lansing began making YouTube videos in earnest. Now, the channel is filled with testimonies, multiple religious educational series from Bishop Earl Boyea, and inspiring talks from both religious and lay people. Where the diocese really shines, however, is in its latest series, “My Vocational Journey.”
Fr. Dan Westermann
This series currently has just two installments, but the videos offer powerful perspectives from young people about following a religious vocation. The first episode, featured above, shares the story of Father Dan Westermann and how he discerned his calling to the priesthood. Ordained in 2014, this priest has a story that could resonate with many young men who feel called to be a priest, but find it hard to imagine a priestly life.
Fr. Dan explained that his calling came during a high school retreat, when he felt he almost heard a voice in the back of his head urging him to become a priest:
“I just said, ‘No. Absolutely not! There’s no way, Lord, you could be calling me to be a priest,’ and I started giving him all kinds of excuses of why not. I’m like, ‘I like girls too much, I want to have a wife and kids, I hate public speaking, I’m not holy enough,’ all of these excuses.
“After what seemed like hours of wrestling with the Lord over it, I just said, ‘Alright, Lord. If this is what you want, then I’m in.’ If you’d told me as a junior in high school that 10 years from now I’d be serving as a Catholic priest, I would have said you’re crazy. But now that I find myself here, I’m just sort of in awe and wonder of the Lord’s goodness.”
Fr. Dan beams with joy as he tells his story, and all the while the video is interspersed with shots of the young priest going about his duties. The high quality of the video brings beautiful imagery to the young priest’s story, while giving a glimpse of the peace he has found in his vocation.
Sister Maria Regina
In the second episode, the Diocese of Lansing turns its attention to Sister Maria Regina, a young nun with the Sisters of Life. Sr. Maria Regina clearly finds a great deal of joy and contentment in her vocation. Even after years with her religious community, the sister speaks about her mission at an ecstatic pace:
“We take the three vows that all religious take – poverty, chastity, and obedience – and we are blessed to take a fourth vow: to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. We have sisters who serve in kind of like a crisis pregnancy mission, where pregnant women will call our sisters and come and meet and just share their hearts.”
Sister Maria Regina’s video is bolstered by beautiful shots of her and her sisters at prayer in their gorgeous motherhouse. The sight of the sisters caring for mothers and their babies is beyond adorable, while showing the positive impact these nuns have on the lives of the families they serve.
“A religious vocation is like being called out of the world to belong to God in a radical and total way. I’ve been in for 12 years now, made my final vows four years ago, and it just gets better every day. In some ways it’s like the best adventure ever, because I’ve given my life to Jesus. I can be called to do anything today and I know I’ll meet Jesus in it.”
The Diocese of Lansing has dozens more videos that are worthy watches, including their “On the Path to Priesthood” series, in which seminarians give interviews about their experiences following their call to Holy Orders. Equally important are the 17 educational pieces hosted by Bishop Earl Boyea, covering all sorts of topics from “Discipleship” and the sacraments to “The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.”