There were no fireworks at first. We were both in Grade 12 and we met at a 60-person Youth for Christ weekend retreat. Vea was overseeing the youth volunteers while Andre was invited as a participant. We became friends, but nothing more.
Our platonic relationship was centred on our service in youth ministry, but flourished to all aspects of our lives. When we were in university, we would study and commute home together. We would call each other in the evening to do our prayers and say good night. We also enjoyed discovering good food in hole-in-the-wall type of restaurants (this continued to be a tradition on our date nights but our taste expanded to fancy restaurants as well).
We stayed close friends for about five years before we ever became attracted to each other. Then, it was like someone had flicked a light switch on. It happened to both of us independently and at about the same time. We were such good friends that we knew something was up and we were comfortable enough to have an open conversation about it. And so we did. We agreed to start dating from then on.
By 2013, three years later, we got married at Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. That year, Feb. 11 landed on a Monday. We thought our loved ones would make the exception and step out of their busy lives. But once we sent out our invitations, by some divine coincidence, that day was announced as the first ever statutory holiday for Family Day in British Columbia!
Immaculate Conception was the parish where Andre grew up and went to elementary school, so it holds a very special place in his heart. Vea’s uncle, who is a diocesan priest in New York, was able to fly over to celebrate the Mass. We were so lucky to have these two very personal touches, one from each side of the family, on our wedding day. We settled in a cozy apartment in East Vancouver and found ourselves walking distance from our new home parish, Our Lady of Sorrows.
Throughout our marriage, we have been continually blessed to have quite a handful of amazing couples that we look up to, and a few young couples who became our close friends. It’s amazing that we get to journey with them as married people. In our prayers, we hold a special devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Clare of Assisi. We love that they both lived their faith with such determination and spunk. Mother Mary has also always been a pillar of strength and love in our lives.
We haven’t been blessed with children yet, but we always joke that God did that intentionally. Our service to the Church and to an extent even our professional lives continues to be dedicated to youth ministry, so rather than giving us children to take care of at home, God has blessed us with teenagers to take care of instead.
In terms of our day-to-day life, we always are faced with the challenge of busyness. We often find ourselves needing to evaluate our priorities to ensure that we have enough time for each other. The trickiest part is we get caught up doing great and positive things: work projects, parish activities, or visiting family or friends. Before we know it, we put our own date nights and home life on the back burner. We’ll probably always face this challenge, but we try to be aware of that.
Even though we’re not newlyweds anymore, we’re still in the infancy of our married life. One thing we discovered right away is that communication is such a vital part of a successful marriage. No matter how hard the topic, we try our best to be open with each other about anything and everything.
We learned about our communication dynamics in an unexpected place ... on the dance floor. We took a few ballroom dancing classes a few years back and were so surprised at how stumbling through dance moves together closely reflected how we saw ourselves (and each other) as a couple, navigating and communicating through life. Mistakes in communicating clearly, misinterpreting intentions and in refusing to let the other person lead – they were all there! If you want to learn more about how your significant other communicates, drag them onto the dance floor and see what happens.
Vea and Andre were gearing up to celebrate their anniversary with an incredible 225 other couples also observing milestone anniversaries at the Archdiocese of Vancouver Marriage Anniversary Mass at St. Matthew’s May 13.