I will honor those baptisms over the years and sacramental marriages that anchored families
Mary Beth and I had what we call a “whirlwind courtship.” I met her by chance in February (note to readers: I know today that it wasn’t “by chance”), saw her again in April and asked her to a movie (she said “no,” but I talked her into it), proposed to her in June (this time she didn’t say “no”), and wed her in October.
Mind you, during our seven-month courtship MB was still living at home with her parents in Duluth. I was living in Crosby-Ironton.
We were married at St. Michael Church in Duluth, her home parish. I was not yet a Catholic but had met with a priest in the town of Deerwood to guide me through my conversion. After two and a half years in the Crosby area, during which I became a Catholic, and MB and I became parents, I bid on a job in Pine River and was awarded it early in 1980.
Four of us tootled northward that year: 1-year-old Eric sat in a car seat while Danny was warm and snug in his mom’s belly. We found an old, drafty house for rent, which pretty well matched the rest of the neighborhood for ambiance. Most days when I arrived home from work, MB was crying. I’d not only taken her away from our little “fixer-upper” home in Crosby, but moved her many more miles away from Duluth.
To make matters worse, the Crosby house (which was no gem in the first place, believe me) didn’t sell for years. We were paying rent and house payments simultaneously although, by God’s grace, the payments didn’t overtax our modest income.
A new phase
In time, life got better in Pine River. We began making friends, lots of them, most of whom had kids near our kids’ ages and almost all of whom were at Mass with us every Sunday.
We became active in parish life. In addition to Daniel, both Kyle and Brady arrived during the Pine River days, adding new sounds, new personalities and new things to be grateful for. We bought a recentlybuilt rambler house, cared for it and improved it while it sheltered us. Blessings tumbled over blessings.
In late 1989 I was offered another job, this time in Duluth. As we left arguably the most idyllic chapter in our married life, Mary Beth wept.
Writing this short piece, I recall baptisms, preparing our kids for the sacrament of penance, first holy Communion and, at the center of it all, a sacramental marriage as the anchor of our growing family.
Even in the most common aspects of our lives — fixing up a little house, planting a vegetable garden, dating a pretty girl, making a new friend, saying a final “goodbye” to an old friend — there is our God, always at our side, always watching over us.
How will we thank him?
Here’s my plan: in gratitude, I will honor those baptisms over the years, and sacramental marriages that anchored families. Faith formation for generations and Bible studies that have enriched me spiritually. Life for all in all stages of life and friends whom I was blessed to meet simply because we both loved Jesus Christ and met in his house.
I am going to support Bishop Kettler’s Annual Appeal. I hope you will, too.
Curt Hanson is executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of St. Cloud and director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.