The Most Reverend John C. Wester's Coat of Arms Reflects Faith, Devotion and Union with Christ - and contains symbols of his personal journey of faith: The Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary the Mother of God, and words from the Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist. The heart surrounded by thorns and surmounted by flames is the traditional symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This represents Bishop Wester's personal devotion to the Sacred Heart and his complete reliance on Christ's ineffable and unfathomable love. As the Church prays during the Eucharist, it is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. It was on Friday, June 19, 1998, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, that Bishop Wester received news of the Holy Father's call to become a bishop.
The red rose, or rosette, is an ancient symbol of Mary, the Mystical Rose. Bishop Wester's family has lived many years in Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Daly City where he attended grammar school and furthered his deep devotion to the Mother of God, a devotion which took its beginnings in the cradle of his home where the rosary was often prayed.
The book of the Gospels is open to the first words of the Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist, Bishop Wester's patron saint: "In Principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum." (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.) Bishop Wester humbly acknowledges his desire to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, at all times and in all places. By following Christ's call, he seeks to reflect the light of Christ in our world.
The pronounced use of blue and green give witness to Bishop Wester's Swedish and Irish heritage, and so honors his father and mother, Charles and Helen, the first teachers of their son in the ways of faith and love.
Bishop Wester's motto, "Abide in Christ," also honors the Evangelist of the Fourth Gospel and is taken from Jesus' discourse at the Last Supper, John 15:4: "Abide in me, as I abide in you." The use of the word "abide" underscores the intimate and permanent relationship we have with Christ. As branches only live if they are attached to the vine, so we live only in union with Christ, the Lamb of God.
The coat of arms also includes the traditional symbols of a bishop: the gold processional cross behind the shield, the pontifical hat, or "gallero," and the six tassels in green, placed in three rows.