Pilgrimage to Fatima: A Journey Toward Marriage
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By Anne Marie McDonnell, Ph. D.
August 2, 2003. Could this finally be the right man for me? I felt a sudden surge of expectation as his car pulled up next to mine in the local town hall parking lot. We had encountered one another at a Catholic singles web site. I suggested meeting at a central location that was easy to find since he lived about 70 miles away in a neighboring state. When I shook his hand, there was an earnest look in his eyes, accompanied by a boyish grin. He simply uttered, "Hi, I'm Mike." He sported a neatly trimmed moustache and was well groomed. His dark, wavy hair, friendly manner, infectious laughter, and down-to-earth temperament revealed a sincerity.
It was definitely a very pleasant first meeting. We chatted easily while enjoying tasty sandwiches at a favorite local restaurant, followed by a vigorous walk. We shared our many common and diverse interests, our family backgrounds, and most importantly, our faith. And little did I think that a simple, routine ritual I performed in the midst of our first walk together would have such a profound and lasting impact on Mike and our relationship. As we were approaching the local Catholic Hospital, I immediately paused, took a right-hand turn, and proceeded toward the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which is centrally located in front of Fatima Hospital. I simply commented that I never walk past that statue without stopping to pay the Blessed Mother a visit. This time, I made a silent prayer for Her intercession to the Lord, hoping that Mike might just be the one I'd been waiting a lifetime (44 years) for. Little did I realize that Mike had also been anticipating such a meeting for just about the same length of time.
This prayerful intercession to the Virgin Mary has become an on-going, integral aspect of our relationship. Only now, we share it together. In fact, attending mass regularly, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, and praying the rosary constitute the cornerstone of our bond with one another. As I sit here writing this reflection, it's been almost 4 years since that fateful day that we met. Mike and I became engaged on October 6, 2006, and we plan to be married in the Catholic Church on August 2, 2008 - just a little over a year away and exactly 5 years from the date we first met.
Neither Mike nor I have ever been married before or have we ever experienced a serious relationship before. We both strongly value the importance of chastity, commitment, and fidelity to one another, to Church teaching, and most of all, to Our Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ. I cherish Mike as a special gift I never dreamed I would receive. HIs meticulously recorded journal chronicales all the wonderful events in our lives together during the past 4 years. He continues to spend countless hours, writing his reflections on our love for the Lord and one another.
Mike's proposal to me was such a sacred event, filled with such tender surprises as he walked me to a lovely, neighborhood park, just across the street from Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. The dozen of white flowers planted nearby, symbolizing the purity in our relationship. The St. Raphael's medal he initially gave me, convincing me that this was merely a pre-engagement celebration, demonstrating our gratitude to the angel whose intercession also helped to bring us together. Then, the dozen of red roses also carefully planted amidst the trees, followed by Mike's humbly kneeling before me, presenting me with the most beautiful, sparkling diamond I had ever seen! Yes, even a romantic ride in a gondola, being serenaded by an Italian tenor, and the scrumptious desserts in which we indulged. Each event added more and more special touches to a grand evening! Yet, that memorable night, October 6, 2006, (the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary), culminated with the most sacred eventt of all- Mike and I reciting the rosary together praying with hearts full of gratitude and asking for God's continued blessings on our relationship and impending marriage.
I think back to the first time Mike and I strolled together and began to share our thoughts, dreams, and visions. I remember that silent intercessory prayer I murmured to Our Lady during our very first walk on August 2, 2003. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a heavenly response. Mike and I hope and pray that as we prepare for our special walk down the aisle and to the altar together at St. Casimir's Church on August 2, 2008, that we will continue to grow closer to God, to all members of God's family here on earth, and to one another. We want to help one another to attain eternal salvation to which we are all called. We pray that our lives as a Catholic couple will be a living to God's graciousness and countless blessings! Nothing is impossible when we put our trust in God!
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Anne Marie McDonnell - Alumna/Teacher, 401 497-0412
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