Meet a Member of the Bridges Community: Miriam C. Wesselmann, SSND

Relate a little about your professional, religious and spiritual background:

Empowerment of others and of myself has been my passion as long as I can remember. From early on I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was convinced that if a person would think in a healthy way, then that person would be happy and live a fulfilled life. I concluded that I wanted my life to be about empowering others and myself, especially in the domains of spiritual, intellectual and emotional areas of life.

During my senior year in high school, I had a priest from the Belleville, Illinois diocese teach me the New Testament. He made Jesus so alive and real to me that I chose to follow a call to become a School Sister of Notre Dame. I wanted to live and minister with others who wanted to live like Jesus and who wanted to teach.

My main professional ministry led me predominately to be a history teacher, secondary guidance/counselor followed by being a secondary principal/administrator. I was personally empowered by receiving master’s degrees in history, guidance/counseling, and administration followed by a master’s degree in Creation Centered Spirituality with an emphasis in psychology. 

Being a campus minister at Saint Louis University for five years opened me up to Ignatian Spirituality. After receiving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, being trained in spiritual direction and Ignatian Spirituality, I became a prayer companion in the Bridges Retreat Program accompanying others as they received the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Since 2001, I have been a prayer companion in the Bridges Program and shortly after became a member of the Bridges Foundation Board, followed by being the executive director of the foundation, later president of the board and presently secretary.

Why do you remain active in the Bridges community?

Members of the Bridges community inspire me, motivate me, help me evolve into a deeper and deeper relationship with God. I experience a sense of belonging with like-minded people, with extremely generous people who consistently give of their gifts and talents not only to the Bridges community but to the broader community. It gives me a forum to share my gifts and to minister with others who have a great desire to follow Jesus as he gives us the way to the Divine Creator. The example of St. Ignatius evolving in his spiritual life from doing things for God, then with God, and finally in God calls me to nurture my personal prayer life and grow in awareness of God’s presence in all beings and including all of nature.  This helps me grow in compassion and gratitude which is very basic to Ignatian Spirituality. 

Last but not least, being a witness and accompanying a retreatant through the Exercises as a prayer companion is an honor and a privilege. I experience great joy, awe and wonder as I witness how God touches and nudges retreatants to greater awareness of seeing God in all things. My faith in God increases as I hear retreatants say, “I feel so much freer” and “I used to know Jesus, now I have a relationship with Jesus” and other expressions of greater intimacy with God. I cannot think of a more rewarding ministry for me at this time in my life.