The only anecdote to isolation, said Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, is communion, and “this is exactly where Christ comes to meet us.”
“You see it over and over and over again in the Gospels, … where He takes people that are broken and isolated and He comes into deep communion with them,” Sr. Miriam added, in her keynote address at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) Student Leadership Summit Jan. 1 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Sr. Miriam entered the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, which serves at Most Holy Trinity Parish and School in Phoenix, in 1998. Her story has been featured on EWTN’s “The Journey Home and, since February 2017, has co-hosted the “Abiding Together” podcast with married laywomen Heather Khym and Michelle Benzinger.
Sr. Miriam shared a part of her vocation, who Jesus is to her and what inspires her in an interview with The Catholic Sun Dec. 31.
Why did you decide to join the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity?
I had a very radical conversion and the priest that mentored me for many years was a member of our community. That’s how I heard about the community. When God revealed to me that this is what He’s calling me to do with my life, He also revealed to me that it was this community. We have priests, sisters and laity who work together to serve and do whatever the bishop needs us to do as a team. I like the adventure of it.
What does Jesus mean to you?
I love Him. He never ceases to continue to encounter me and transform my life and break open my heart so much more deeply, so His love pours out. I hope it never ends.
Who are you favorite saints?
I love St. Catherine of Siena. She is fire, beauty, intimacy, passion, preaching and such an authentic witness to the healing power of God.
I also love St. Claire who goes and leads the way.
St Augustine and John Paul II are also my favorites. Saints choose you in all sorts of seasons in your life.
You are one of the hosts of “Abiding Together,” a podcast that you started with Heather Khym and Michelle Benzinger. How did the podcast come to be?
It’s been such a humble blessing that was born out of our friendship. Michelle and Heather went to college together and I met Heather about 10 years ago and Michelle seven years. Through that course we became friends. People said, “You are just so great friends. You should do something about that. You should make a podcast.”
There are so many different excuses. We don’t live in the same time zones; we don’t live close. One day a friend of Heather’s confronted her and said, “What if I took away all of your excuses?” He pushed us.
People often say when they listen to “Abiding Together,” they feel like they’re at the table with us sitting there and drinking coffee, and they are. It’s a peek into our friendship and our life and we’re very honest in our stories. We laugh, we cry. You name it, we talk about it. We want to invite people into the journey that they belong at the table.
We’ve had over three million downloads and we can’t go anywhere without having someone stop us and thank us. It’s humbling because we’re just recording and we’re like, “Is anyone listening to us?” Clearly the Lord has anointed it, so it’s a very beautiful gift that I’m grateful for.
How is SLS different from other venues and conferences that you’ve spoken at?
SLS and SEEK [the other biannual FOCUS-sponsored conference held opposite SLS] are among the largest Catholic conferences in the nation. At SLS there are 8,000-10,000 people and at SEEK, 17,000 people who are young — which for the Church is a bit of an anomaly. For me, it’s such an inspiration to see so many young people wanting to grow in their faith, wanting to encounter the Lord. It’s always such a blessing to be here amongst everybody.
What’s your favorite way to pray?
I love silence. I used to avoid it at all costs, but now I find that my life is very jarring without it. I get up in the morning early before our holy hour and I have coffee and total quiet with the Lord. I find I need more and more silence as I grow. Even sitting in the chapel just gazing at the Lord. So often I’ll bring a book into the chapel, but I hardly ever read. I just want to sit. I just want to be with Him. Many times I say to Him, “I just want to hang out with you.”