Mirjam and her husband are two friendly new faces in our community. Mirjam converted to the Catholic Faith and received First Communion and Confirmation here at the end of January. How did it come about that we were allowed to celebrate this big day with this young family?
How it all began
Mirjam originally comes from Bregenz in southern Germany, grew up in Switzerland and studied in Vienna. The singer met her husband at university, he is Roman Catholic, she was Protestant and had often attended a Korean church. As the relationship deepened, the conversations about faith became more important to them.
“My husband grew up in his Catholic community and knew nothing else. At the time when things got more serious with us and we started to talk more about faith, he actually didn’t know anything about the Reformation – I, on the other hand, knew all the prejudices from the Protestant side against the Catholic faith. We then went together to a non-denominational church in Vienna. That was also cool for my husband at first, simply because it was a different experience. But at some point that wasn’t enough for my husband and we asked ourselves if that was really all. Then he in particular began to research about the Reformation and the Protestant faith – and of course also about what the Catholic faith actually says.”
That also aroused Mirjam’s interest. She also started researching. So there was a lot to discuss. When the two then read and discussed a lot, Mirjam realized that she tended to the Catholic Faith and agreed with Catholic theology.
“I grew up believing, but my faith was far from perfect. I believed in Jesus, I believed in God, I was always given Jesus‘ love and mercy in my faith. That was all well and good, but I never quite knew why we believed in certain things or what they meant. A lot of things weren’t so precise. After we did some research and I learned more about the Catholic faith, a whole picture finally emerged. If I compare my faith to a jigsaw puzzle, then there were always pieces missing… and the Catholic faith filled them in. There was finally an image to see, not just pieces of a puzzle. I finally understood so much and got closer to God.”
First steps in the Catholic Church
Miriam and her husband then began attending Catholic Masses together. But it was not possible for Miriam to to receive communion. It stayed like that for two years.
„It was a bit strange for me at the beginning… It was difficult for me, especially in Vienna, to find a place where I felt comfortable. It was an experience for me to get away from all the hoopla. I’ve only ever been used to church services with bands, loud music and a huge party…just with a lot of distractions. I really found peace in the Catholic Church. Here you concentrate on what is really important. On Jesus – his flesh and his blood. He’s in the center. That really surprised me in a very positive way: how close you get to Jesus when all the hoopla is over. You get a completely different perspective.”
How did Mirjam come to the John Paul II Center?
“An activity of the diocese called The ‚Long Night of the Churches‘, was decisive. I found out what programs different churches were offering that night and that’s how I came to the JP2 Center. I had never heard of it and thought: That sounds interesting.”
Mirjam attended the JP2 Center´s „Young Professionals“ Mass on Sunday evening. Her husband and herself had been looking for churches with a more modern music style and more life for a long time – and were very pleasantly surprised.
“Right on the first evening I simply asked Father George what it is like to convert to the Catholic faith. When he then said that you could do it here without any problems, I was a bit overwhelmed, but then I thought to myself: Actually, I’ve been wanting this for two years – why not?“
Welcome to the Community! How is it now?
When Mirjam reflects on her path, she speaks about it with conviction and a moving joy.
„I’ve noticed that I didn’t think about a lot of things in the past. I often just believed what I was told. I think there used to be a lot of “pick & choose”: you listen to people on the internet or from different communities and pick what you like. You don’t take what you don’t like. But I didn’t see the sense of that. And for this reason, I starting look for the truth, because without truth, the big picture wouldn’t have made any sense. Especially in this context, the treasure of the Apostolic Tradition that the Church has is particularly valuable for me. I have the assurance that what I believe comes from Jesus.”
Of course, Mirjam is also aware that being Catholic is not always easy.
“A lot of people have such a negative image of the Catholic Church. Among other things, because the media likes to look for scandals … But they don’t understand that you have to separate them. What people do is not what faith and tradition say.”
“I feel well here in the Catholic Church. I am so happy that above all I can receive the Eucharist. This is and has been a very big desire of mine for a long time. I used to feel a bit empty, and now I feel like I’m finally home. I’m really very happy. I’m finally one step closer to getting closer to Jesus and God.”
We are very happy that Mirjam and her husband have found their way to our community. It is moving and refreshing to see what God can do to two people who want to grow together in their relationship with God. We are excited about what God has in store for them and look forward to welcoming them many more times.