Sunday, June 19, 2016

Deacon Dad - Inspiring Story of a #Deacon to his Children to SHARE

by: Miriam Westen
My father Deacon Henry Bernard Westen, although not perfect, was an inspiration to his family in terms of his fidelity to the Catholic Church. His strong love for the Holy Mass has kept his children and Grandchildren (16) close to the Sacraments. Henry was a profoundly humble and prayerful man who had a great influence on the lives of his children.He was born in 1928 and grew up in Europe during the Second World War. He belonged to a family of 6 children with the eldest son dying as an infant. Henry was raised by his mother, Anna Westen, who was from Meppen, in Germany. His father had died when the children were very young. He often told us stories of his life during the War and how he had to smuggle goods to sell with his mother in order to feed the starving children as food was scarce. The family moved to Canada in the 1950s and my Dad eventually worked as a civil servant for the Government of Canada as an immigration officer. This meant he traveled to Europe again and lived there. It was in Germany he met my mother Rosey Westen, from India, who was studying nursing with the German Dominican Nuns.  The two returned to Canada and my parents married in 1970. Soon after this he started working for the Catholic Children's Aid Society. Rosey and Henry had three children: John-Henry, Mark and Miriam. (text continues below the pic.) Since my mother was a Syro-Malabar (Eastern Rite) Catholic my Dad became an ordained Deacon in the Maronite Catholic (Eastern) Rite. After studying with a Master's Degree in Theology he was ordained. He was very devoted to the Mass and Confession. He tried to go to Mass daily if possible. Henry had a special affection for the Tridentine or Extraordinary form of the Holy Mass. He loved Our Lady and the Eucharist. He even promoted perpetual Adoration in our Parish. As children we often saw Dad with Rosary in his hand and the name of Jesus on his lips. He prayed the Divine Office or Breviary in Latin every day and taught it to me. I remember sitting with him singing some of the chants in Latin as we recited some of the prayers from the Breviary together. Dad was very proficient in many languages and we would often converse in German or French together.
He was an example of a good Deacon according to the Bible in 1 Timothy, chapter 3 verse 8, the qualities of a Deacon are:
 " Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience." 
Whenever something good happened he would say Deo Gratias which is thanks be to God in Latin. His favorite prayer was "Jesus my love I love thee more than myself, I repent of ever having offended thee never permit me to offend thee again grant that I may love thee always and than do with me what thou wilt" Amen. He died on November 4, 2008 at the age of 80, with the rosary in his hands, from a long battle of Leukemia. He had seen his 10th grandchild and 6 more were born after his death. Some of the older grandchildren remember their Opa fondly especially playing chess with him. If there was one thing he told his children to remember, and maybe for you too, it was that we are here on this earth to Know, Love and Serve God.

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