It was January of 2008 and Renee was standing near the clock of New York’s Grand Central Station. The 26-year-old librarian was waiting for her long-distance date to arrive and hoping this one would represent a clean break with what had been her recent dating luck.
Renee had gone through several disappointing experiences with men she called “only Catholic by name,” and joined CatholicMatch in response to what she discerned as a call from God to find a man with whom she could truly share her faith.
A long-distance relationship wasn’t what she had in mind, but Renee wasn’t closed off to the idea. And when 24-year-old Sean, in training to be an Army pilot, appeared in her search, she was interested.
“I thought he seemed intelligent, athletic and most importantly, faith-filled,” she recalled. Sean’s location in Alabama gave Renee pause, but his profile also said he would make frequent trips to the Northeast. “I decided not rule him out,” she said. “(Then) he was the one to make first contact, sending me a humorous emotigram to get the conversation rolling.”
The emotigram led to messages, which became daily phone conversations, which brings us two months later to Renee waiting near the clock in Grand Central for Sean to arrive. The time they spent together only energized what they felt for each other.
“We found we shared a similar sense of humor and both enjoyed being active,” she told CatholicMatch. “We were excited to have each found someone to whom we were attracted and who also shared our convictions. When he flew out at the end of the weekend, I knew we had something special.”
When a long-distance relationship comes together, it takes a little help from Divine Providence to handle the practical difficulties that arise and help was forthcoming for Sean and Renee. The first came on his initial visit to New York. Renee was working at a seminary that had been converted into a retreat house, and the priests gave Sean a room for the weekend. And with Sean’s dad being an airline pilot, the costs of their subsequent travel was lessened. Sean flew to New York several more times before the spring was out, Renee made two trips to Alabama and they each made a special visit to see the other’s siblings.
The smooth flow of the relationship was something that stood out for Renee, particularly compared with her previous experiences and she attributes that Christ being at the center. “We always attended Mass together,” she said. “And he accompanied me to my weekly hour at the Adoration chapel whenever he could.”
Sean had a friend getting married in the Midwest during the summer of 2008, and Renee joined him. There were hassles at the airport though, and repeated delays were putting a monkey wrench in her plans to fly standby. “Maybe I should just give up and head back to New York,” she told Sean, in describing the situation. He was firm though, and assured Renee that if she didn’t make the next flight, he would buy her an actual ticket. She would soon find out the reason behind Sean’s determination.
They stayed at Renee’s parents’ home for the weekend and on the morning of the wedding, she was awakened to breakfast in bed. “It was there, that after serving me a favorite meal of scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice he asked me to be his wife,” Renee recalled. She concedes to not being a morning person and a little groggy during breakfast. “That woke me up,” she said. “I gave him an ecstatic ‘yes!’”
Sean was deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2008, and Renee returned home to the Midwest to have the support of family and friends while she was separated from her fiancée. They communicated almost daily through Skype, and a few months after his return, they were married, in December of 2009.
“(He’s) my best friend, as well as the love of my life,” Renee said about her husband. Today they live in the Colorado Springs area, and have three daughters—twins less than two years old and a newborn. Sean is still in the Army, while Renee is staying home with their growing family. That January 2008 moment in Grand Central Station truly marked a new period of life for both of them, and their loved ones.