Maribel Maryoga felt a call to use her talents in a different way, putting behind her career in dance to work in Catholic communications. Photo courtesy Maribel Maryoga

Dancing to the Lord’s will

  • March 20, 2021

Maribel Maryoga’s career as a dancer took her to some exciting places.

She danced in the film Camp Rock 2 — starring Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers — under the tutelage of choreographer Rosero McCoy, was featured in a Michael Jackson tribute in Switzerland and toured Europe with Franco-Ontarian singer and impressionist Véronic DiCaire. She also racked up credits as an actress and served as an anchor for The Weather Network.

But she felt the call to glorify God in a different way.

“There came this huge call that I can give more,” said the 32-year-old website editor and social media co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Montreal. “I respect all my dancer friends for their call, but mine was something else.”

Maryoga set aside her dancing career to complete her communications degree at Université du Québec à Montréal, which she wrapped up at age 30.

The life-changing decision came while Maryoga was on tour in France.

“I was in my hotel room and I was having anxiety attacks. I was not doing well. And I thought, ‘I’ve danced professionally for 10 years on stage with crowds of thousands of people. What is going on?’ ” she recalled.

“I then felt the huge need to give more. I prayed and then I decided to approach the (tour) producer to say, ‘I’m sorry, but I have to go back.’ And that’s something you can’t really do as a dancer — to leave in the middle of a contract. But I had to do it. The call was so strong.”

Maryoga’s decision received a high level of validation in February as she was chosen as one of 16 communications professionals from around the world under the age of 35 to participate in the Faith Communication in the Digital World training initiative conceived by the Dicastery for Communication office of the Roman Curia.

She will spend the duration of the project continuing in her role as website editor and social media co-ordinator.

Erika Jacinto, the director of communications and media relations for the archdiocese, wrote the recommendation letter for Maryoga. In an e-mail to The Catholic Register, Jacinto said she touted Maryoga’s ability, work ethic and her unique faith background because of her Nicaraguan heritage.

Saturday conference calls for the Faith Communication program are still in their early weeks but Maryoga has enjoyed the lectures and lively Zoom class discussions.

“We had to watch the documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix before one of our classes, and it raises good questions about if social media is the best platform to share our Christian message because we know the good and bad of different platforms,” said Maryoga.

“We debate and we also discuss how we can project our faith well through technology.”

Maryoga is looking forward to two work trips at the Vatican as a component of this experience. COVID-19 will dictate when these residential weeks occur, but some point in May is possible for the first trip.

The capstone project of the initiative is to develop a comprehensive document of best practice for online Catholic communications professionals.

Maryoga, supported by her husband Adam and four-year-old daughter Emma, has one guiding credo going forward during her professional career.

“I have a role to deliver God’s beautiful message to the youth and adults. I want to share His wisdom the best I can on social media,” she said.

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