Anna Weaver, a reporter for the Catholic Standard, and her fiancé, Joseph Lopiccolo, a Navy lieutenant, will marry on July 9 at her home parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Kailua, Hawaii.
Anna Weaver, a reporter for the Catholic Standard, and her fiancé, Joseph Lopiccolo, a Navy lieutenant, will marry on July 9 at her home parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Kailua, Hawaii.
Recently my fiancé Joe and I got a card in the mail. There was an unfamiliar name on the New York return address. It turned out to be a wedding card picked out for us by Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Mary Kay Marrone, my tough-yet-loving fifth-grade teacher who also knew my family well back when she was assigned at our home parish and school in Hawaii.

I had received a wedding RSVP card from Sister Mary Kay a month or so before saying she couldn't attend our wedding but that I'd hear from her as we got closer to the big day. However the note in the wedding card was not from her, but rather from a fellow sister at St. Joseph's Provincial House in Latham, N.Y., telling me that Sister Mary Kay had passed away.

I was saddened to hear about the death of a favorite teacher yet also touched that she had still thought to select a wedding card for Joe and me in her last illness. It made me think about the many people who have influenced both of us as we grew up and became the two people who would meet, fall in love and prepare to get married on July 9.

Teachers, parents, family, friends, and even passing acquaintances in our lives have shaped us in slow and subtle ways. Sister Mary Kay taught my fifth-grade class about the Jesse Tree and the mysteries of the rosary, how to act in our big Stations of the Cross play, and - much to my young feminist frustration - that the boys in the class could lift heavier boxes than us girls when we were carrying supplies over to an unwed mothers' gift drive.

To me though, her biggest lesson was how important the Catholic faith should be in my everyday life. And she was still teaching me that in her last card, which had a verse from the Book of Psalms on the inside cover: "Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall; happy are the people whose God is the Lord."

I saw another 576 examples of loving faith in action on June 5 while covering the Archdiocese of Washington's annual Jubilarian Celebration for couples married 25 years and more. Joe came along with me for some extra advice as we approached our own marriage.
One couple I interviewed that day was Willie B. and Carolyn D. Poston Jr., married for 40 years. I loved that Carolyn looked every bit the June bride dressed in a gorgeous white skirt suit, flower in her hair, and that Willie was just as dapper in a white suit. These childhood sweethearts were thrilled to be celebrating their four decades of marriage.

When I told them after the interview that Joe and I were getting married soon, Willie's advice was, "Keep God number one in your relationship. Without God, you have no relationship." It was good to hear that reminder from a couple who has made marriage work for many years.

Joe and I have certainly been seeking out God in our relationship as we dated, became engaged and prepared for the Sacrament of Marriage. It's been ramped up a bit since our engagement last summer. Joe and I have become "marriage prep junkies" of a sort.

Besides meeting with our pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle, we attended the archdiocese's marriage preparation program, went on an Engaged Encounter weekend, took a multi-week marriage communications workshop at Blessed Sacrament Parish, read Christopher West books, and looked over relationship questionnaires and articles from the U.S. Bishop's "For Your Marriage" website.

We had passionate discussions about kids and jobs and household responsibilities. And we carefully planned our wedding Mass to include favorite hymns and readings and a blessing of the Holy Family icon we purchased at the National Shrine, a reminder for us to model our future lives after the ideal family.

We've done all this because we know firsthand what a process it is to move from living individualistic single lives into learning how to fuse those two lives together, whether it's cleaning up the other person's kitchen because he cooked dinner, or sharing with each other our hopes and plans for the future.

We're still learning how to live out the observation of our friend Father Gary Secor, who will preside at our wedding: "It's interesting to see when couples start to serve the other person instead of living for themselves."

In all our preparation, we have grown in our knowledge of each other, a knowledge that will only deepen in marriage. Through God's grace and guidance, we're looking forward to our own long and faith-filled marriage.

And we started that life journey long before we were ever conscious of it, through our family, through our friends like Sister Mary Kay, and through new acquaintances like the Postons.