Prior to coming here, Bishop Wester knew very little about Utah - but now he loves the state and the people living here. Shauna Lake sat down with him Person 2 Person to get to know him better.
Shauna Lake: Bishop Wester, thank you so much for doing this with us; I'm just curious about your background. Tell me about who you were as a child and what your family dynamics was like.
Bishop Wester: I was born and raised in San Francisco. I'm a 4th generation San Franciscan. My great grandfather was a captain in the fire department in 1906 earthquake and fire and so that's why San Francisco is in my blood and my DNA. I went into the seminary after the 8th grade so I was 13 when I went into the seminary.
Shauna Lake: So eighth grade is pretty early age to go into the seminary and know what you want to do with your life. Where did that come from?
Bishop Wester: It's hard to put into words, but when I was in 6th grade I would train the altar servers at mass and just being in church, feeling Gods presence and being with the people of God, there was something about it. I felt at home. I felt at peace, like this would be really wonderful to be able to express my love of God and people all at the same time
Shauna Lake: Was there ever a time where you questioned your decision and said maybe I would like to live more of a secular life to see what that is like or were you always steadfast and knew that you'd done the right thing?
Bishop Wester: I would have to say, Shauna, for the most part it was pretty much boom, right down the line, but I did have a few points especially in college where I did have a few reservations. I really thought marriage, I still do, I think marriage is a neat thing. I wanted a wife and kids that really struck me as a beautiful thing. I met a few women along the way that I thought hmm, maybe I could get serious here. So I knew I had to start making a decision. I knew if I just floated I knew that I would no longer be in charge of what happened so I thought I had to discern this. So I did, and I decided to pull back and make it known that I want to be a priest.
Shauna Lake: So, you are a 4th generation San Franciscan. You practiced in San Francisco for a lot of your career and then all of a sudden you come to Utah. I mean, tell me about that process and how you went from point A to point B.
Bishop Wester: Well, that was like instantaneous. This is something you don't plan on, you don't put in for. Is it a calling? You might put it that way. People here know that word very well and yes it is. Ultimately, the Pope decides I'm going to send Bishop Wester to Salt Lake City.
Shauna Lake: So what were you thinking, Bishop Wester, when you're thinking Utah, land of the Mormons? Was there some trepidation on your part?
Bishop Wester: I have, to be honest. I didn't know anything about Utah at the time. So when I flew in to Salt Lake City for the press conference and the plane was coming in on the approach and you bank left to turn and I saw the mountain and I went like this: Oh my, there are mountains here! I had no idea. I thought, is the pilot lost? I hope he knows there are mountains there. And come to see, my goodness are there mountains, but they are absolutely gorgeous.
Shauna Lake: How do you feel the Catholic religion and the Mormon religion mesh and work together?
Bishop Wester: I think there is a wonderful, wonderful relationship between the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and between the other churches and the other religions. I think Utah, I Ive said this before and Ill say it again, I really think Utah is a model in how religions can work together respectfully. We respect each others beliefs and traditions and their culture and at the same time we work together. We concentrate more on what we have in common than what our differences are.
Shauna Lake: You've been here a while, what does Utah mean to you now?
Bishop Wester: There is a beauty in Utah and I think the people reflect that natural beauty of Utah. The canyons and the mountains, the red rocks and the plateaus, there is just a beauty here. God speaks through revelation, through beauty, through nature and god speaks eloquently in Utah. It's very, very evident that God is present here.
Shauna Lake: Let's talk about the holidays. I feel like it is such a secular holiday all of a sudden. Its like rushing around and shopping and doing this and I feel like sometimes we lose the meaning of this season so to speak. What would you tell people about kind of grasping and centering yourself to remember what this holiday really is?
Bishop Wester: I would say it's important to take time to listen. In the midst of the noise and the busy-ness and things have to be done I know, but really listen. What does Christmas mean? What is God saying to us that he loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to become one of us in the incarnation? And what does that mean for my life? What difference does God make in my life? This is the time to think about those questions. You know, Do You Hear What I Hear? is one of the Christmas carols. What do you hear? What is God saying to you and if you listen intently you will hear that he loves you, that you have worth that you have meaning and that you have a purpose in life and that if you fulfill that purpose then you will be very happy.
Shauna Lake: That's a perfect note to end on. Bishop Wester, thank you so much its been so nice to get to know you person to person.
Bishop Wester: Thank you, Shauna
-Written and produced by Angie Denison
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)