Monitor Magazine Feb. 2022 In Focus: Marriage

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From the Bishop

Marriage: Called to the Joy of Love

 “There is within each couple a divine energy of love.” “World Marriage Day” began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1981 and grew out of the experience of couples engaged in the “Worldwide Marriage Encounter,” a movement founded in Spain – “Encuentro Conyugal” – by the late Father Gabriel Calvo (1927-2021), who devoted his entire priestly ministry (1952-2021) to the pastoral care of married couples and families. “There is within each couple,” he reflected, “a divine energy of love. It has to be released by a deep sharing between husband and wife, through the communication of their feelings and of the whole of their lives together. It cannot be done in just one moment.”

A Message from

BISHOP DAVID M. O’CONNELL, C.M. Pope St. John Paul II imparted his apostolic blessing to “World Marriage Day” in 1993, and it has been celebrated in the world’s dioceses ever since. Its purpose is to honor husbands and wives for their mutual sacrificial love and fidelity, embodied in “their own special Sacrament.” The Church has always believed and taught that marriage is the “image” of the union of Christ with his Church. The late Pope noted that “marriage is an act of the will that signifies and involves a mutual gift which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls with whom they make up a sole family, a ‘domestic Church.’” That expression continues to be widely used and applied. Here in our own Diocese, following the lead of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “National Marriage Week” and “World Marriage Day” help us to focus on building a “culture of life and love” that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Called to the Joy of Love.” The USCCB has produced a document “Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life,” which can be viewed on its website: Our Diocese has also produced excellent resources on its website: Every year in October, I celebrate

Corpus Christi Church, Willingboro. Staff photo


his year, the Church in our country and in our own Diocese celebrates “National Marriage Week” (Feb. 7-14) and “World Marriage Day” (Feb. 13) in tribute to husbands and wives as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of society. When we think of marriage, words like love, faithfulness, trust, sacrifice, forgiveness and perseverance and many other values come to mind. For us in the Church, the idea of Sacrament and covenant embraces all those expressions as we consider the loving and graced relationship of one man and one woman in a union that is faithful, fruitful and forever. No other partnership equals this blessed gift of our Creator, present from the beginning of the world.

PRAYER FOR WORLD MARRIAGE DAY Father William Dilgen, SSM Father, as we prepare for World Marriage Day, we thank you for your tremendous gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. Help us to witness to its glory by a life of growing intimacy. Teach us the beauty of forgiveness so we may become more and more One in Heart, Mind, and Body. Strengthen our dialogue and help us become living signs of your love. Make us grow more in love with the Church so we may renew the Body of Christ. Make us a sign of unity in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Brother. Amen.

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February 2022


From the Bishop

Diocese treasures married life Continued from 5

two Masses – one for Burlington and Mercer counties at the Cathedral in Trenton and another for Monmouth and Ocean Counties at the Co-Cathedral in Freehold – which honor married couples commemorating their first, 25th and 50th or more anniversaries. These are wonderful, beautifully spiritual occasions for anniversary couples themselves and their families, as well as for their parish priests, the diocesan staff and for me as their Bishop. These are milestones of joy and faith for the entire Diocese and fitting recognitions of the couples’ lives of love. In my homily for one of these Masses, I preached to the couples present: You have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to

A couple celebrates 50 years of marriage during the us in the perAnniversary Blessings Mass son of Jesus in St. Robert Bellarmine CoChrist. And Cathedral, Freehold, on Oct. in the Spirit of 10, 2021. Jeff Bruno photo this generous God, husband and wife are for true, deep love (“Homily for Annito give themselves to each another. A versary Blessings,” St. Robert Bellarmine spiritual life grows as love finds its cenCo-Cathedral, Oct. 15, 2015). ter beyond ourselves: in God. Faithful This year, as the Diocese celebrates and committed relationships offer a “National Marriage Week” and “World doorway into the mystery of spiritual Marriage Day,” let us together thank life through which we discover this: God for the gift, vocation and witness of the more we give of self, the richer we married life and all its many blessings, become in soul; the more we go beyond joys and even challenges within our ourselves in love, the more we become beloved Diocese. May married couples our true selves and our spiritual beauty continue to mirror the love of Christ is more fully revealed. In marriage we for his Church, always remembering are seeking to bring one another into his command to all of us, whatever our fuller life and to belong to one another vocation may be: “Love one another as I not as a “possession” but as a possibility have loved you ( John 13:34).”

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February 2022

The Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine, Freehold presents a teaching and exposition of Sacred Relics

The Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine presents a teaching and exposition of Sacred The Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine presents a teaching and exposition of Sacred The of St. Robert 16 Bellarmine presents aCarlos teaching and exposition of Sacred RelicsCo-Cathedral on Wednesday, February at 6:30 pm. Father Martins, a Vatican-appointed February 16  Martins, 6:30-9:30pm Relics Wednesday, on Wednesday, February 16 at 6:30 pm. Father Carlos a Vatican-appointed Relics February 16 at pm. FatherVatican Carlos collection Martins, aof Vatican-appointed experton onWednesday, relics will be here with an6:30 extraordinary over 150 relics, Presentation in the Church, followed by exposition of relics in Dentici hall. expert on relics will be here with an extraordinary Vatican collection of over 150 relics, expert relics will beyears. here with an the extraordinary Vatican collection over 150 relics, some asonold as 2,000 Among treasures will be relics of St.ofJoseph, St. Maria some Father as old as 2,000 years. a Among the treasures will be relics of St.will Joseph, Carlos Martins, Vatican-appointed expert on relics, bringSt. anMaria some as St. oldTherese as 2,000 the treasures relics St. Joseph, St. Maria Goretti, ofyears. LisieuxAmong (the “Little Flower”),will St. be Francis ofofAssisi, St. Anthony of Goretti, St. ThereseVatican of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of old Assisi, St. Anthony of extraordinary collection of over 160 relics, some as as 2,000 years. Goretti, St.Thomas ThereseAquinas, of Lisieux “Little Flower”), Francis Assisi, Anthony of Padua, St. and(the St. Faustina Kowalska.St.There willofalso be aSt. portion of the Padua, Among St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. There will also be a portion of the the treasures willof be relics of St. Joseph, St. Mariapieces Goretti, St.the Therese Lisieux, Padua, Thomas St. Faustina will be aofportion of the the Veil of St. Our Lady Aquinas, and one and the largest Kowalska. remaining There of also True Cross in Veil ofSt.Our Lady and St. one of the largestSt.remaining pieces the TrueKowalska. Cross in the Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Thomas Aquinas, andof Faustina Veil of Those Our Lady and one of the largest remaining ofSt.the in the world. in attendance will be able to examine andpieces venerate eachTrue relic.Cross Throughout world.There Those attendance be Veil ableofto venerate each relic. Throughout willin also be a portionwill of the Ourexamine Lady andand one of the largest remaining pieces world. Those in attendance will be able to examine and venerate each relic. Throughout history, many healings have been worked in the presence of relics; and thousands have history, many healings have been worked in the presence relics; and thousands have of the True Cross in the world. of history, healings have been the presence of You relics; thousands have occurredmany through this ministry. Do worked not missinthis opportunity. areand encouraged to bring occurred through this ministry. Do not miss this opportunity. You are encouraged to bring Those in attendance will be able tonot examine and venerate each relic. You encouraged to occurred through this ministry. miss this opportunity. areareencouraged to bring your articles of devotion (such asDo rosaries, holy cards, etc.) andYou pictures of ill friends/family yourbring articles devotion (such (such as rosaries, holy cards, ill friends/family yourof articles of devotion as rosaries, holy cards,etc.) etc.)and and pictures pictures ofof friends/family your articles of devotion (such rosaries, holy cards, and pictures ofill ill friends/family members, which you will be as able to touch to the etc.) reliquaries as a means of intercesmembers, which which you will be be able touchto to reliquaries as aofmeans of intercesmembers, you will ableto to touch thethe reliquaries as a means intercession. members, which you will be able to touch to the reliquaries as a means of intercession. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please spread the word. sion. This is a This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please spread word. is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Pleasethe spread the word. sion. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please spread the word.

In Focus

The Good News about

Catholic Marriage

BY PEG HENSLER  Special Contributor


atholic marriage has a timeless beauty that rings true for each new generation. It is multi-faceted like a fine diamond with many points of light – it is a Sacrament, covenant, partnership and vocation. It is permanent, faithful, exclusive and open to life. Catholic marriage is fully human, lived out in the ordinary moments of daily family life, yet it has a supernatural quality – it is infused with sacramental grace, a sharing in God’s divine life.

 Catholic marriage is fully human, lived out in the ordinary moments of daily family life ... For those of us who love Catholic marriage so much that we’ve made a career of it, we know the stark realities. Most young people who grow up Catholic will choose not to marry in the Church, and too many in committed relationships will not choose marriage at all.

As of 2018, marriage rates in the general population reached an all-time low. This is not good news for anyone, and it makes the job of those who minister to families in every faith denomination quite challenging. Yet, when it comes to Catholic marriage, there is more than enough good news to go around. First, we know of far too many great and lasting marriages to ever think that Catholic marriage is somehow archaic or only for the holiest couples. Even those Catholic couples who are seeking God in other places than the Church still have the foundation of their Sacrament and sacred covenant. Their marriages bear the mark of Christ’s sacrificial love and there is always the hope and strong possibility that they will return to the loving arms of their Catholic faith community. Because Catholic marriage is sealed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, He is always at work behind the scenes, even when couples are not aware of it.

Jesus is just waiting for us to open our hearts to an intimate personal relationship with him, to invite him to a place at our table. How wonderful to know that no matter how far we stray from his love, no matter how many times we fail to give the loving response to our spouse, Jesus never gives up on us or our marriage. At times he must leave the 99 to search for us, but he relentlessly pursues us until he brings us home. This notion of home is central to our Catholic faith. As Catholics our parish community is our spiritual home. Our parish is a family of families. When we celebrate the Eucharist at Mass, we come to the table together and become one body united in Christ. This means that we are deeply connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ – we never need to go it alone. If one couple is struggling with a difficulty, they need only turn to their parish community for a helpful response, whether from their parish priest, Continued on 70

Couples participate in a shared activity during a past diocesan Pre-Cana event. Monitor file photo

February 2022


In Focus

Even the Holy Family felt stress, Pope tells families CINDY WOODEN 

Pope Francis greets a family during a meeting with the poor at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, Italy, Nov. 12, 2021. CNS photo/Paul Haring

VATICAN CITY • The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on families, but with extra patience and faith, bonds can grow stronger, Pope Francis wrote in a letter released on the feast of the Holy Family. “Marriage, as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat – wave-tossed yet sturdy, thanks to the reality of the sacrament – across a sometimes stormy sea,” he told couples in the letter published Dec. 26. Reciting the midday Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 26, Pope Francis said he had written the letter as a “Christmas gift” to married couples during the celebration of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, a year dedicated to re-reading his 2016 exhortation on marriage and family life. In his Angelus talk, the Pope commented on the day’s Gospel reading about a 12-year-old Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem and making Mary and Joseph frantic. “In the Gospel, we see that even in the Holy Family things did not all go well: There were unexpected problems, anxiety, suffering. The Holy Family of holy cards does not exist,” he said. When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple and ask him why he worried them so, he tells them, “Did you not know that I must be in my

Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph do not understand, the Pope said. “They need time to learn to know their son. That’s the way it is with us as well: Each day, a family needs to learn how to listen to each other to understand each other, to walk together, to face conflicts and difficulties.”

Catholic News Service


 “Don’t be ashamed to kneel together before Jesus in the Eucharist.” The pandemic lockdowns, quarantines and periods of isolation “meant that there was more time to be together, and this proved a unique opportunity for strengthening communication within families,” the Pope said. But that also demanded patience. When nerves are frazzled, he said, try to put the needs of others first and re-read the hymn to love from 1 Corinthians 13 “so that it can inspire your decisions and your actions” and “the time you spend together, far from being a penance, will be become a refuge amid the storms.” Pope Francis also told married couples, “Don’t be ashamed to kneel together before Jesus in the Eucharist,

February 2022

in order to find a few moments of peace and to look at each other with tenderness and goodness. The Holy Father addressed parents expressing that they must pass on to their children “the joy of realizing that they are God’s children, children of a Father who has always loved them tenderly and who takes them by the hand each new day,” he said. “As they come to know this, your children will grow in faith and trust in God.” Addressing engaged couples, Pope Francis said he knows the pandemic has been especially hard for those trying to plan a future together. “In your journey toward marriage,” he told them, “always trust in God’s providence, however limited your means, since at times, difficulties can bring out resources we did not even think we had. Do not hesitate to rely on your families and friends, on the ecclesial community, on your parish, to help you prepare for marriage and family life by learning from those who have already advanced along the path on which you are now setting out.” The 85-year-old Pope also expressed his affection to grandparents, especially those who are feeling isolated or alone. He urged families to make greater efforts to be with them or at least be in touch with them.

Church to support, honor couples during

World Marriage Day, National Marriage Week

World Marriage Day and National Marriage Week are opportune times for married couples to reflect on their sacred union as husband and wife. Courtesy

BY EMMALEE ITALIA  Contributing Editor


 “We encourage parishes to consider the entire month of February a month for marriage.” “Parishes are encouraged to honor married couples in various ways during Saturday and Sunday liturgies on Feb. 12-13,” said Peg Hensler, associate director for Marriage Ministries and NFP, diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life. “We encourage parishes to consider the entire month of February a month for marriage.” World Marriage Day is an outgrowth of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, an apostolate aimed at helping couples make good marriages even better. World Mar-


National Marriage Week USA

riage Day began in 1983 and is celebrated every second Sunday of February in dioceses across the country. In 1993, his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, imparted his Apostolic Blessings on World Marriage Day. The purpose of World Marriage Day is to highlight the beauty of marriage and to honor husbands and wives for their faithfulness and sacrifices. “In his Letter to Married Couples on Dec. 26, 2021, Pope Francis encouraged [them] ‘to be active in the Church, especially in her pastoral care of families,’” Hensler pointed out. “Couples honor their marriage best by working to keep their marriage strong and by giving themselves in service to God. When couples serve together in their parish community, especially in ministries that help build strong marriages and families, they are responding to their vocational call.” Parishes traditionally mark this annual occasion by blessing married couples at Masses and holding special social gatherings to celebrate them. While there are no diocesan-sponsored World Marriage Day activities or events planned this year, the Diocese honors all Catholic married couples with a special web resource to enhance their marriage in three important ways: 1) Reconnect with Your Spouse, 2) Make Your



Called to the Joy of Love For more information and resources, visit





USCCB graphic

he Diocese of Trenton will join the globe and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Feb. 13 in the recognition of World Marriage Day, celebrated annually on a Sunday near Valentine’s Day, and incorporated by National Marriage week. Feb. 7-14. A USCCB-sponsored event, the theme for this year’s National Marriage Week is “Called to the Joy of Love.” The bishops launched National Marriage Week USA in 2010 as part of an international event seeking to mobilize individuals, organizations and businesses in a common purpose to strengthen marriage in communities and influence the culture. The Secretariat on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for the USCCB offers a full set of resources to bishops, priests, deacons, married couples and lay men and women to help celebrate and live the great gift of married life.

Marriage Even Better, and 3) Serve Others in Your Marriage. These and many more resources can be found at For newly married couples, visit for a comprehensive collection of helps for newlyweds – a part of the BuildingStrongMarriages. org initiative of the Diocese. Additional marriage resources and information on WMD can be found at and www.dioceseoftrenton. org/world-marriage-day-for-parishes.

February 2022


In Focus

Church seeks to support married,

engaged and dating couples through programs, resources

RESOURCES FOR THE ENGAGED FOCCUS Pre-Marital inventory • This is the customized marriage preparation that takes place in the parish. Couples work with a facilitator to discuss a range of important topics that help them understand the meaning of their union, discover their individual styles and learn communication and conflict resolution skills that will enhance their lifelong relationship.

healing and forgiveness with reflective prayer rituals. Better Together Marriage Prep and Marriage Enrichment, Dynamic Catholic • A 12-session marriage prep and marriage enrichment program free from Dynamic Catholic and is ideally suited for engaged couples working with a mentor couple. WEB RESOURCES: • Includes information on where to hold their wedding; planning the wedding ceremony and explanations on the three types of wedding ceremonies – Catholic wedding Mass; Catholic wedding outside of Mass, and Catholic wedding ceremony between a Catholic and an unbaptized person. RESOURCES FOR NEWLY MARRIED COUPLES

Parish Pre-Cana Conferences • Conducted by a team of married couples who offer practical advice and witness on topics of communication, conflict resolution, marital spirituality, intimacy and parenthood (includes Natural Family Planning). Engaged couples come together with their peers. Diocesan Pre-Cana Conferences • Similar to parish Pre-Cana events, the conferences are conducted by the diocesan team and tend to be larger events without small group discussion.

Better Together Remarriage Retreat • This is designed for couples in which one or both parties had a prior marriage and for civilly married couples seeking marriage in the Church. This is a retreat-like marriage preparation event that covers topics of communication, 10   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE

WEB RESOURCES: • Includes information to assist couples on: Finances/ Money; Inlaws; Interfaith Marriage; Intimacy; Family Planning/Infertility; Parenting; Prayer and Spirituality; Improving Your Marriage; Dealing with Adversity • Includes insights on common issues and challenges facing newly married couples: Balancing job and family, parent and couple time; frequency of sex and sexual satisfaction; debt brought into marriage, the financial situation; marital adjustment difficulties due to physical needs, different personalities, different expectations. A message on marriage from Pope Francis is included as well as perspectives for newlyweds to consider.

February 2022

RESOURCES FOR MARRIED COUPLES Marriage Encounter weekends are weekend enrichment programs to enhance communication skills for married couples. Retrouvaille Weekends for couples experiencing marital difficulty • a weekend program run by couples who have experienced a Retrouvaille weekend. Topics are about healing, forgiveness and communication. Follow-up sessions are included. Beloved video and discussion series on sacramental marriage for parish groups. The series is presented by Augustine Institute and includes 12 sessions WEB RESOURCES: • Gives perspective on what makes a Catholic marriage different including the three main elements that make a Catholic marriage and constitute the sacred promises of the vows: Marriage is permanent, exclusive and is open to life. • Information is provided on what the Diocese has planned for World Marriage Day and National Marriage Week and a message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., on Marriage: Called to the Joy of Love

Lessons in Marriage FROM STAFF REPORTS


hat makes for a healthy, successful marriage through good times and bad? What spiritual tools are needed to take a couple from infatuation to covenant? We asked several married couples from parishes around the Diocese to reflect on some of the building blocks that help their marriages thrive amid all the stresses and pressures of day-to-day life, particularly in light of their Catholic partnership. without us even noticing. There will be times of sorrow and disappointment in life, but there is always something for which to be thankful. “It is important to remember that joy and gratitude are … interior dispositions we embody … The world’s stereotype [is] the ‘ball and chain’ response to his or her spouse. This clearly is an image of someone who has lost joy and gratitude. But if you keep the spirit of joy and gratitude burning in both of your hearts, you will experience life with your spouse not as a drudgery but as an adventure.” ......................................

Joseph & Kaitlyn Rohan Courtesy photo


fter nearly a decade-long relationship – about four years of that as a married couple – Joseph and Kaitlyn Rohan are settling into family life with their almost threeyear-old son and plans to enroll in St. Dominic Parish, Brick. Having met in Gaming, Austria, during their study abroad semester, Joe has served in the Marine Corp six years and Kaitlyn is a registered nurse and certified Natural Family Planning instructor. We asked Kaitlyn and Joseph about joy and gratitude. Here is what they said: “Joy and gratitude have had a tremendous role in our marriage. Joy is something we strive for: to enjoy each other, make joyful memories, and share in each other’s [happiness]. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and comes from being rooted in Christ. Our marriage is a commitment to love one another as Christ loved us and to help one another achieve Heaven. If we are living out our marriage the way we promised to on the day of our wedding, our marriage

The Rohan family should be a witness to [that] joy. “On a day-to-day level … we both agree that we are most grateful for having each other to lean on. A loving spouse who has the same life goals and the desire to carry your crosses with you is truly a blessing … [and] gratitude goes hand in hand with joy…. To appreciate your spouse and all the gifts we have been given is important to a joyful relationship. “Joy and gratitude … can be emotional experiences – but also are choices to be made on a daily and, at times, even hourly basis. Our advice to couples is to take a step back and look at the big picture. So often, little annoyances or frustrations sap our joy and gratitude

Denny & Joan Slavin


etired couple Deacon Denny and Joan Slavin, married nearly 52 years, started out on a blind date that ended in a marriage proposal (spoiler alert – Joan said “yes”). Members of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, Joan worked for 30 years in Trenton’s Anchor House, Inc., while Denny was simultaneously Fiscal

February 2022

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In Focus

Denny and Joan Slavin Officer for the State of N.J. (28 years); National Guard Officer in the 50th Armored Division in N.J. (20 years); and permanent deacon for the Diocesan Office of Family Life and at their home parish (30 years). Joan and Denny wanted other couples to know this about strength and resilience: “We needed strength and resilience from the very beginning as we dealt with family resistance to our sudden engagement. “Strength and resilience served us well also over the course of our marriage, contributing to [its] longevity, and helped us through two miscarriages following the birth of our son, Jimmy; two times Denny lost his employment; deaths of friends and family members; small spats and bitter arguments, and our darkest hours following Jimmy’s death at age 19 in a car accident. “Strength and resilience are God-given, but … we need to be proactive by developing and sustaining them. Here’s what worked for us: “Volunteer to teach others about relationships … That kept us ever mindful of our responsibility to each other. “Resist the urge to point out shortcomings or show each other the “right way” to do things. Our relationship is more important than my being right. Thank each other for things you do for each other. (‘Thanks for the clean clothes, Joanie!’) Make it a point to say ‘I love you’ at the end of the day. (‘Night, Pretty, I love you!’) Greet each other verbally at the start of the day. Then we don’t have to wonder what the mood is! 12   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE

“Resist the urge to take words said in anger personally. We’ve said some pretty mean things over the years, but we didn’t really mean ‘em! “Be open to asking for help. After Jimmy’s death, we sought professional counselling that not only helped us grieve but also opened paths to personal and relationship growth. (Even a single remark from a very dear priest friend was huge -”Don’t be afraid to yell at God; He can take it.” What a source of strength!) These steps, begun as requirements, became second nature. The habits add flexibility to our resilience and links to our chain of strength. Would that we had started developing them much earlier!” ......................................

John & Christina Armellino


ewlyweds as of Sept. 18, 2021, John and Christina Armellino met in Brick Township High School. Although they went their separate ways, 20 years later God’s plan reconnected them even as they lived in separate states. Despite the distance and long weekend commutes from Maryland to New Jersey to reunite, the couple fostered their courtship. Christina and John had this to say about the part patience and forgiveness played: “Patience and forgiveness were part of our journey from the beginning. We both decided, early on, that we would wait to live together until we were married. Once married, patience played a very important role while we both

February 2022

Courtesy photo

Joe Moore file photo

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Christina and John Armellino adjusted to married life and living with one another for the first time. Being patient with your spouse allows them to grow and gives them the opportunity to discover who they are as your spouse as well as who God wants them to be. “We allowed God to write our love story, which wasn’t always easy because that meant we had to change our mindset from what ‘we want’ to what God wants for us. We keep God at the center of our relationship, and as a couple we really enjoy growing in faith together. Our favorite day is Sunday, and we enjoy going to Mass together. “The best part of our married life is beginning and ending our days together, knowing that we are never alone, and we can depend on each other no matter what. “Neither of us is perfect. When one of our weaknesses show, the other’s strength kicks in. When we are faced with adversity, we come together and talk it through. Forgiveness, both big and small, is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Mistakes are inevitable; showing patience and giving forgiveness provide the building blocks for growth. “When entering married life, we’d like to encourage couples to invite God into your relationship, allow him to write your love story and ask him to intercede when needed. Remember, 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 … Love never fails!” ......................................


aving met and become friends at work in 1995, Joe and Laura Sarubbi made the relationship lifelong in 1999, followed by welcoming triplet daugthers in 2002 – Kate, Anna and Teresa – who since graduated from St. Paul School, Princeton, in 2016 and Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, in 2020. Laura and Joe told us how their faith life has made their marriage successful: “God does not put you on a straight and narrow path of life. We wonder how people who do not have a strong faith get through the tough times. Just when everything seems perfect, a turn or obstacle gets thrown into your path. God then changes our plans, and we wonder why this happened. Inevitably, God’s plan becomes clear, and it is always a better plan than our own. “Our faith guides us in everything

Emilio Ortíz & Abril Chico

Joe and Laura Sarubbi at the 2022 March for Life in Washington, DC. Courtesy photo


ewly married Nov. 20, 2021, Abril Chico and Emilio Ortíz dated for five years before

Courtesy photo

Joe & Laura Sarubbi

we do. We were both married before and received Church annulments. Our faith was always a part of our lives and being married in the Church was very important to us. “As an engaged couple, we attended “To Trust Again,” the program for those who obtained annulments. It helped us define what we wanted our marriage to be. This program was life-changing because it made us focus on understanding the choices we may have made in our first marriages. “Being involved in our faith, and especially in our parish, raising children, and sending them to Catholic school K-12 (and two in Catholic universities), has strengthened our marriage. Now that we are empty nesters, we have a strong appreciation for each other and the role that God plays in our life. “We are members of the St. Paul Pre-Cana team and help engaged couples through marriage preparation. It is one of the greatest gifts to our marriage. Having real conversations with them about what married life is like only makes us appreciate our faith and each other more. “We don’t know how we could get through life without knowing that God was at the heart of it all. He has a plan; we have to trust in that and get out of His way.” ......................................

Emilio Ortíz and Abril Chico their covenant was sealed. Abril ministered as a catechist for more than five years; Emilio joined her in the ministry for the past two years. Here is what the couple believes has made their relationship work: “Our marriage is not perfect, but with the help of God, we trust that he will always help us. “Everyone dreams of finding love and being loved, but not everyone is open to really committing themselves to someone. It takes work. Since Emilio and I met, we knew we wanted to get married someday. Since the moment when we decided to begin a life together, we have built on our mutual trust day by day. “For sure, it is not always easy and there will be days with sadness, but, as the priest said in our wedding Mass, ‘Never go to bed angry. Talk to each other.’ “For us, the most important key is keeping God in the middle of our marriage. Those who are thinking about getting married should try to remember that we should always say yes to God’s call. The Sacrament of Marriage brings great blessings with it. “May God bless your path. Trust in him and he will act (Psalms 37:5).” ......................................

February 2022