"I visited him and his family in New Hampshire where he proposed to me (at his local church – St Raphael Church, no less)"
Dear St Raphael
It was over two years ago that my mother decided my love life was (some might say sadly) lacking. It was my mother, undoubtedly inspired by the Holy Spirit, who subscribed me to the St Raphael site. Two years later, I owe our Blessed Mother and my mother a great big THANK YOU! For it was on the St Raphael site that I met my soulmate, my best friend, and now my husband.
I was initially skeptical about meeting people on the internet, but God soon allayed any doubts I had. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I couldn't get enough of meeting people with similar beliefs and interests. I found myself chatting with people across the oceans at 2am, 3am, 4am – being from Australia, I wasn't going to let a little time difference get in the way. I learned to live with a permanent set of bags under my eyes. It was a small price to pay.
I knew Geoff was different right from the first email he sent me. He was intense, he was sincere, and he had an amazing faith and passion for God. I still remember the first time we spoke on the phone, his laugh, his accent, his searching questions. We spoke for almost a year before Geoff visited me in Western Australia (Geoff's from New Hampshire, literally the other side of the world). I knew he was "the one" (by this stage, I was scaring myself with my romantic notions and made a vow to watch no more Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies). Six weeks after Geoff visited me, I visited him and his family in New Hampshire where he proposed to me (at his local church – St Raphael Church, no less). Several months later, I was visiting Geoff again in the States – being apart was difficult, but our faith kept us together. I'm convinced without prayer, we wouldn't be together today.
In retrospect, I wouldn't of done it any other way. Being apart meant we "had" to focus on growing together emotionally and spiritually. Some times we would say nothing over the phone, and just listen to each other breathe (ok, blame Meg Ryan again). There was a connection that couldn't be explained, except through God's love.
Geoff agreed to move to Australia, so our next "challenge" was going through the visa process. God clearly wanted Geoff and I to grow in humility and patience. We prayed to St Raphael every day, some would say "hassled him", until that wonderful day I received a phone call from Geoff at 4am telling me the visa had been approved.
God has really taken care of us. It was Geoff's idea – guided again by the Spirit – for us to marry at the heart of Catholicism, in Vatican City. So another adventure unravelled before us, organising an overseas wedding. Even as I stepped on the plane to leave, I still couldn't quite believe we would soon be married in Italy! Two minutes of Rome traffic soon convinced me. We were in Rome for a week before the big day, joined by our respective families from Australia and the States.
We were married in a beautiful chapel called "Santa Anna" (St Anne, the mother of Mary), on September 23rd, 2003 – ironically the feast day of Blessed Padre Pio! Our Old Testament reading was from Tobit, with reference to Tobias and Sarah who were guided together by St Raphael. I'll never forget that day as Geoff and I exchanged our vows in front of the Holy Eucharist, thinking back to our humble beginnings on St Raphel, God's influence in our relationship, culminating in Holy Matrimony. Our wedding reception was held at "Raphael Hotel" – it wasn't intentional, but certainly highlighted St Raphael's presence all along the way!
All I can to say to skeptics out there is – God does work miracles!
We were "booked" to have a special audience with Our Holy Father the day after our marriage, but he was unfortunately too sick to attend. However, sightseeing around St Peter's and the Vatican was an amazing testimony to our faith. We honeymooned down the Amalfi Coast in Sorrento, and Geoff's engaged in one of his favourite passtimes, eating pizza.
We've now settled back in Australia, and wanted to extend our special thanks to the St Raphael team. For all those searching for their soulmate, our prayers are with you. We've had many obstacles in our relationship, but nothing is insurmountable to God. He only needs the smallest opening to our hearts to work miracles.