Fatima: We had spoken about marriage and began seriously discerning our call to that vocation together in the fall of 2013. Months passed and it was in time when I had an inkling he was going to propose. My honest, best guess was that it’d be in July right in the middle of St. Peter’s Square (both of our families were supposed to go on an Italy-Spain vacation together). The trip didn’t end up happening due to a family emergency, but what ended up happening was so much better. God always has the better plan after all.
Thirty days before May 1st, we began a Novena to St. Joseph the Worker whose feast is celebrated on that day. During that particular time, I had been offering up prayers about my work vocation, and I thought Jonathan was, too, since his Year of Volunteer Service with Youth Apostles was concluding.
Unbeknownst to me, one of my best friends and Jonathan met and schemed this grand plan to take me all around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia weeks before. Vania, well aware of my work situation and constant need for prayer amid the chaos, invited me to make a personal retreat in Emmitsburg on May 1st. It was timely because of everything going on and of course, it was the first day of the Month of Mary! Without hesitation I said yes to that! The night before, she even sent me an itinerary of our day and offered to drive.
Meanwhile, I was under the impression that Jon was going out of town with his youth.
On the morning of May 1st, Vania picked me up and I almost knew instantly that something was up. She then gave me her phone and it was a video of Jon greeting me and telling me bad news and good news. The bad news was that I wasn’t going to Emmitsburg with Vania. The good news…yeah, you know where I’m going with this.
All day long, Jon brought me (by means of Vania) to several places of significance to us–churches, restaurants, parks. He, his brother, and cousin were in hiding, taking footage of me (sneaky!). At every single location he left for me a balloon to find, which was attached to a letter about our story and a corresponding video of people closest to our hearts (but further apart in distance). I think it’s also important to add that I was blindfolded about 70% of that day, haha.
When we arrived at our final destination, I knew instantly where we were at. Going underground to park, the cool of the garage, the sounds of the D.C. streets during rush hour… I knew this was it. Still blind folded, “Adoration (Tatum Ergo)” as sung by Matt Maher came on in Vania’s car as we parked and I asked if we can just sit there and pray along with the song. While singing the words, repeating the chorus, it was in that car where I tearfully realized and was in full confidence that this was it. After all these years of our journey, after all our hardships and triumphs, our faithful God brought us to that moment. It was no longer just about us trying to find our way to Heaven on our own as it had been before. He was now calling us to do that together, hand in hand, as husband and wife.
That final destination was Holy Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew. I guessed right (fun side note: I seriously thought to myself, “there’s NO WAY he wouldn’t include Mass today… NO WAY!”). This is a place of great significance to us because it is also the place where he asked me to be his girlfriend in 2012. Despite the fact that I knew he was going to propose very soon, my heart experienced overflowing peace. Naturally I thought it would be the opposite. That’s how I knew that was it.
After the conclusion of Mass, Jon instructed me in the final letter to recite the 30th day prayer of our novena in the Wedding Chapel of Mary and Joseph. Upon completing the prayer (which Jon had to finish because I kept crying), he got up only to kneel back down to ask me to journey to Heaven as his wife. I joyfully said my “fiat.”
Jonathan: I still remember waking up that day being so nervous. My brother and cousin had driven up the night before to help me with the day because I knew I wanted to make a video, so they could help with the recording and set up of everything. I had been planning this day for months. I knew there were many special places in the area for us, and so I wanted to take her on a journey to each of these places. At the same time, we’ve known each other since we were 13 years young, and so I also wanted to take her through time (not literally) by writing letters of my favorite memories with her since we were 13 y/o to now. She would find these letters attached to a balloon at each place, and would read it, then let the balloon go to symbolize letting that part of our lives go, to move forward to the next part of our lives.
After a long day of running around setting up the balloons and letters, hiding to get views of her opening up those letters, to finally getting to the church where I had asked her to be my girlfriend again at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC. Most of our family, and closest friends were there hiding on the opposite side where she was. At the end of mass, the last instructions were for her to go to the chapel of the marriage of St. Joseph and Mary and pray the last day of the 30-day novena we had been praying the entire month (yes, I know disgustingly super Catholic LOL). When she was kneeling, she had no idea we were all behind her. I walked up the steps to almost the top of them, and I paused. Our entire relationship passed in front of me leading up to the moment where I knew I was going to ask her to be my future wife. I paused. I took a deep breath and then walked and knelt beside her. She was already crying of course, because she probably got a hint of what was happening. After we finished the prayer, we stood up and I said, “You know that I love you..etc, etc. Will you help me become a saint, will you help me get to heaven, will you marry me?” the rest is history! Now I will be marrying the woman of my dreams. The woman God has given to me!