Jesus comes to find us and calls us by name, said Catholic YouTuber Emily Wilson when she addressed Catholics attending the Student Leadership Summit Dec. 30 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“As human beings, we want to be known, that someone would know all of us and love us, that someone would stay with us,” she said during her keynote at the summit, sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
Wilson, a married mother of a 14-month-old son, is viewed by many women to be like a big sister, best friend and mentor — more than 100,000 women regularly watch her weekly YouTube videos which she’s been posting since 2015. She addresses topics such as drinking, pornography and the dating culture honestly and empowers women to confidently stand by their Catholic faith.
The inspirational YouTuber and sought-after speaker is also the author of “I Choose the Sky: A Scriptural Devotion for Woman” and “Go Bravely: Becoming the Woman You Were Created to Be.” Wilson spoke with The Catholic Sun Dec. 31 and shared about her devotion to St. Joan of Arc and her relationship with Jesus.
Why did you choose to evangelize on YouTube?
The Lord asked me to. I had been building a ministry, and women were asking a lot of questions. I thought, “Maybe I could write blog posts. But,” I thought, “blogs are kind of going out. Video is something that’s up-and-coming.” The Lord spoke very clearly and said, “I want you to start making videos.” So, I said, “Okay.” I didn’t know how it was going to look so I set up my camera. My formal training in college was to speak into a camera as a broadcast journalism student, so, I just went from there and started looking at topics that girls asked about a lot and started making videos. Girls could write in questions and I was making videos off of their questions. It’s been crazy but so fun.
Who is Jesus to you?
Everything! Jesus is the center of my life. My goal is to have Him flow out into every aspect of my life, firstly as a woman — as a daughter of God, and then into my marriage, into my ministry, into all of those things. I meet him in daily Mass every single day.
In your talk, “The Need to Encounter,” you mentioned how much daily Mass meant to you in college. What sustained you to stay consistent with prayer and going to Mass?
I came to realize my need for that, my need for home. The beauty of the Eucharist and the beauty of the Catholic Church is you have a home all over the world. I can walk into a church in France and the Mass is the same in a different language. It’s the same Jesus, the same readings that my parents are hearing that Sunday. Just that need for a place to call home was very key in college and I think that’s something that’s true for every college student when you move away and you need that foundation, that feeling of comfort, of being known and loved for who you are.
‘Go Bravely: Becoming the Woman You Were Created to Be’
Author: Emily Wilson
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Length: 160 pp.
Release Date: April 27, 2018
You mention on social media and in your book “Go Bravely” that you have a devotion to St. Joan of Arc. How did your devotion to her come to be?
She is such an example for women in rising up in boldness and bravery. My confirmation saint is St. Thérèse so back in high school I flew under the radar. I wasn’t picked for a lot of things. I ran in every school election and I lost every time and I was never asked to be a retreat leader. My faith was like a quiet “little way” — which it still is, but I needed an example in my life of what it means to respond to the Lord with urgency and with boldness; Joan of Arc provides that example. I read a book called “Joan of Arc in Her Own Words” and I found her words incredibly inspiring and her faith in the Lord totally unshakable. I needed that for myself. I needed someone to look up to, even though she lived so many years ago.
What is Jesus doing in your life right now?
So many things! I had my baby last year and the Lord is really teaching me a lot in my motherhood, how to love and serve. Motherhood is this constant process of giving of yourself until you’re in the negatives and then being asked to give more. I think it was St. Teresa of Calcutta who said, “Give until it hurts.” That’s what the Lord is teaching me to do at this time, to give until it hurts, until I’m at the end of my capacity, to keep finding Jesus in that serving.
Jesus is the one who grows my ministry. He’s reaching women, and His call to me is to always serve the women He places in my care, to lead them and share wisdom and knowledge with them. All I do is tend to the hearts that He sends my way.
Has the season of Advent changed for you since being a mother?
Totally. Last year my son was just a couple weeks old at Christmas, and Advent is definitely a different journey of knowing what it must have been like for Mary to wait for the birth of her child. I went to 42 weeks in my pregnancy, so, I really learned what it means to be patient — what it means to wait for the Lord, and that definitely carries over for every Advent for the rest of my life now.
Why did you decide to title your book “Go Bravely”?
It’s something Joan of Arc would say to her soldiers: “Go bravely. All will be well. Have no fear.” She also would say, “In God’s name, let us all go on bravely.” The book is how to bravely and boldly live your faith as a woman, so, I thought, “The women all over the world are not my soldiers but I’m leading them in some way.” Joan of Arc says, “Go Bravely” and I want to share that with the same women that God has entrusted me to lead.
Your ministry is centered around women. What do you want women to know today?
I want women to know that they belong. They belong to a God who came as a baby on Christmas, died on a cross for them on Good Friday and rose from the dead Easter morning. When they find their belonging in Him, everything changes, and that affects every decision you make, if we let it, every conversation — day, morning, noon and night. There is belonging for them. Their identity, when it’s rooted in that belonging, is an important place to live from as a woman because it gives us confidence, and it gives us joy. That’s what I want for women — confidence and joy in Jesus.