"We are in love with each other and we are very thankful to Our Lord for bringing us together at last."
Dear St. Raphael's:
Erika and I would like to tell people our story as a sort of dialogue.
Erika can start:
After ending a relationship that left a very sour taste in my mouth, I attended an Emmaus Retreat at church to sort of gather my thoughts. While at this Retreat, an old time friend (who attended the youth group I led years before) sent me a palanca (encouragement letter) and two Miraculous Medals, from France. She had just returned from a trip and heard of my retreat and sent them to me. During the Retreat, I had a conversion experience where the Lord opened my eyes to His Blessed Mother. Shortly after this beautiful experience, I began searching information on the Miraculous Medal on the Internet. I noticed several ads about St. Raphaels and decided to join (something I would have NEVER thought to do). My friends couldn't believe I had done this; some even thought I was crazy for doing it.
A little over a year ago, on November 25, 2002, I joined St. Raphael's with much reservation and some fear. I joined for 3 months, to try it out, without knowing that it was the best $35 I have ever spent!
Ok, my turn:
I joined the Church in 1994, together with my mom (another long story). In my first couple of years in the Church I gradually went through my second conversion to traditional Catholic belief and practice, principally the Latin Mass and traditional Catholic thought. This time was coupled with a long period of discernment about the priesthood, which I see now in retrospect brought me through to the time when the wind of Providence brought me to Erika.
I have NEVER looked at online singles places before, and only did so after seeing a couple of different Catholic sites. I joined St. Raphaels on Nov. 22, just a couple of days before Erika. My main interest was simply to see what the whole scene was like and to meet others that attended the traditional Roman rite as well, which I have met. Well, it appears that Erika was looking for all the right things because I kept coming up on her searches after she joined, and she emailed me to find out what I thought of St. Raphaels. The rest is history.
Back to the better half of this relationship:
A few days prior to joining, I recall a conversation with an aunt about the person I would like to spend the rest of my life with and she assured me that "he didn't exist" — boy was she wrong! Coming from a retreat, I was spiritually charged up. I began praying, a very specific prayer, asking the Lord, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, to send me someone who was a traditional Catholic, very well versed in the faith, and wants as many children as the Lord sends us. After finishing my list of qualifications (and GOD LAUGHING, I am sure), the doubting Thomas in me concluded, oh and he will be ambidextrous, just to be sure.
You may wonder why I was so specific in my prayers? After stumbling many years upon guys, who called themselves "Catholic," I realized that it was time to make some changes in men as well as prayer tactics. Honestly, I was tired of instructing them in the faith; for once I wanted someone to know more than I and to be my partner in the faith. Although, I must confess, the LAST place I thought this person would live was nearly 1500 miles away!!! The next day after joining St. Raphaels, when Todd responded, I knew he was really special. It wasn't long after, that I was certain he was the ONE!
Ok, Todd chiming in again:
Before I joined the Church, and for that matter even more so after I joined, I wasn't much of a dater. But, I did always know that ideally the person I wanted to be with was someone that was not afraid, spiritually and emotionally, to completely give themselves over to marriage in a way that there were no boundaries, no secrets and no need to be anything other than themselves. This is no insult to any of you Catholic women that might read this, but I didn't think honestly that I would ever find that.
Even though our conversations began purely platonically, talking about St. Raphaels, the dating scene, the Church, and the like, our affinity for one another grew like an exploding star.
Back to Erika:
It all began with daily e-mails about family, faith, friends, love, relationships, you name it we wrote about it. It was fabulous, I thought, because you could be totally honest with this person without any inhibitions to dominate the beginning of the relationship. St. Raphaels correspondence-only scenarios set the pace for openness in our relationship (the lovely chat feature wasn't in place yet), since we couldn't see one another nor speak. We hit it off quickly; without even knowing what the other looked like. As time passed and our relationship flourished, milestones were set until the day finally came when we met.
Can you imagine how nervous we were? In June of 2003, we finally met. Todd flew down to Miami, Florida from Syracuse, New York. Not only was he meeting me, but my five-year-old son, which was a little nerve-racking for me. It was about 5 minutes of this and then he gave me a hug and the initial anxious feelings had disappeared. He spent exactly six days with me during whom he met my entire family (you know us Latins) and friends.
Our relationship, from the start, was totally effortless (and still is). The relationship was different than the ones in the past and it was because it was from God. I cannot begin to mention the God-incidences within it. Here are just a few:
We both believe that marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and education of children. (We are thinking maybe 8, plus my son)
Todd joined St. Raphaels just 2 days prior.
Todd had discerned a religious vocation (with the Fraternity of St. Peter) just one year prior and wasn't sure what the Lord had in store for him next.
Todd grew up Protestant and became Catholic after a spiritual experience involving the Blessed Mother.
He knows more about the Faith than I!
We share the same birthday day, he four years my elder, December 20th.
My son and his mother share the same birthdays, February 14th, St. Valentines Day.
Our grandmothers share the same birthdays, September 20th.
He attends and serves at the Traditional Latin Mass.
Oh and yes, he is ambidextrous!
And, this may sound crazy, but when he writes prayers for us to pray, I find it sooo attractive!
Todd and I know that we are soul mates! We are in love with each other and we are very thankful to Our Lord for bringing us together at last. We know that it is also thanks to Our Blessed Mother and all the Saints who intercede daily, on our behalf. We pray together every night, for our future together and our lovely children. We plan to wed, Lord willing, next year, 2005.
Todd chimes in one last time:There really isnt anything more to add!
This is only the beginning of a beautiful story, therefore we ask that everyone that reads this at St. Raphaels puts us in their prayers so that it has a happy ending and His will be done. We look forward to sharing future pictures and our plans, thanks to St. Raphael.nets Catholic Singles Ministry (now CatholicMatch.com).
In HIS infinite love,