Our marriage stories - "The world needs LIGHTS!"

Yes, I had considered a call to religious LIFE, and that was what led me into the Catholic Church.  When I returned from a month living in a Christian Commune in Boulder, Colorado... I thought that my life there was a lot like being a nun - we were strictly seperated from the men, wore long dresses, had prayer/Bible study and chores.  I left there thinking - "I want to be a nun."  Then when I returned to have my parents tell me that in reading Isaiah 55:1-2 at a Silent Guided Ignation retreat...my dad was told to join the Catholic Church!  Being 20 years old - they told me that I could decide for myself.  "I want to be a nun, so yes I want to be Catholic!"  Within months we had a quick family instruction... sitting around the coffee table of our home sat the little ones, and Fr Custodio spoke in very simple terms to them.  The Catholic Church is so vast... the length,width, height goes up to Heaven - there is no getting it all learned!  It is a constant time of learning and growing in the Knowledge and LOVE of HIM, and His Bride, The Church! 
Pat's High School Graduation Picture.  As I was going through college and meeting his sister my first year... Pat was at home graduating High School and starting to farm.  He felt a bit like he was missing out by never leaving Marshall - watching most of his classmates leave and try college.  But he knew that he wanted to farm, and so he found great joy in making it is life profession.  Yet farming is an actual living of a life, rather than just a job.  At the time he was actually finding his life's work with great passion and determination.  He also shocked his sisters by telling them that he would only marry a Catholic.  Lately I have come to the realization, knowing the determined man that Pat is, that his prayers were instumental in the conversion of our family!  We are reminded these days that our children should set their standards high and pray for their future spouse, and my husband is a huge example of that Truth and right Path! 

This was "the farm" that became a wonderful place for me to begin my romance with the Catholic Church!  My parents bought this old shelled out farmhouse and falling down buildings - except for the beautiful barn in which they even milked cows after we left there!  The reason for buying this place was to get 11 kids out of the City for the summers - we fixed up the house - with plaster, windows, paint, sanded floors... made it rustically livable.  Never did get running water, as you can see my sister washing her hair at the pump.  We put in a big garden, and spent time putting up food for our large family.  I spent much time growing in my love of the Church.  I read Thomas A'Kempis - Imitation of Christ, and groaned over the beauty of his call to asceticism - leaving ourselves behind and following HIM and His Bride, The Church!  This was the farm experience I was having, while Pat was truly starting to Farm!  Thomas Merton and his Seven Story Mountain was huge for me here too!  I would go to mass daily at college at St Catherines, and then I found community with the young people that attended daily mass in the evenings at our home parish, the Bascilica of St Mary in downtown Minneapolis!  I call the first years of being Catholic - my nun years, and I described in my conversion story that I had gone through some amazing experiences in discerning my call!  When my 3rd daughter, Maria, joined the Poor Clares for 5 months discerning her call... it was very reminiscent of my month living behind the enclosure for the month of January in 1972 studying the LIFE and writing a paper on religious LIFE! 

The barn at the farm...
After the sister directing me in my discernment shocked me with her announcement that she would be leaving and getting married... it seemed to take my call away with it without a conscious decision on my part.  I was carried along with the flow of LIFE... starting my work as a nurse, getting my own apartment just a block from my parent's home in Minneapolis, attending daily mass and having a group of single friends to share social time with from church, and of course the time spent with my family just a block away!  I received an invitation to my long time friend, Marge Verly to her wedding on June 10, 1977!  That is where I met/noticed Pat for the first time!

This picture is such a gift.. it is literally the first time I saw Pat as I walked into the groom's dinner that night! 
I was kind of dense and invited myself to stay at the farm during the wedding.  With their large family, it was pretty bold of me!  I guess I made an impression on my future mother-in-law though with my rosary beside my bed - she noticed this and pointed out to Pat that would be the kind of girl to look for.  I guess that I got Pat's interest too,when I sunbathed in my two piece swimsuit in the back yard saying my rosary - swimsuit and rosary make a knock out combination!  Pat struck me as a very easy person to talk to - much like one of my brothers would be.  I sprained my ankle very badly at the wedding dance, and he found me some crutches and cared for me so sweetly - I was smitten!

Recovering from my badly sprained ankle at the farm - scrabble time!  Pat called me, and a long distance dating started!  He would wake me many nights and talk at great length about his adventures and misadventures on the farm.  I was a city girl, and still to this day have much to learn.  The farm is a lot like the Catholic Church - you never know it all and there is more to learn with each new day!  We dated - mostly by phone - Pat is a wonderful communicator, and I will always be grateful for this gift!  He loves to share his life with me, and will talk to me about anything and everything.  I will never forget the summer night that he awoke me to a phone call - sharing his hard days toil in the summer heat "walking the beans."  He and his two brothers had spent the day walking the rows of the bean field pulling the weeds by hand.  "It was a beautiful field of beans!"  They could watch the thunder clouds forming later in the day, and a shot of hail hit only that field and wiped it out - reduced it to torn and rotting vegetation as the hail stones wiped out the field.  All that hard work gone in an instant!  One thing that is hard about the farm, but there is nothing that can be done about it - Mother Nature is always the boss.  We are helpless to change it!  There have, however, been many special masses and prayers for rain over the years, and usually we have had a good crop with those million dollar rains! 
Barbara Lynn Luke the weekend before Marge's wedding.  I chose Luke for my confirmation saint as he was a physicain and I was to be a nurse, and I loved what he writes about Mary in his Gospel!!!  Her Magnificat is my hymn to be Humble woman of Christ - She shows me the way!  Our Lady - Queen of Heaven and Earth is with me always as I hold the rosary beads of constant Prayer!  I will always remember the day of my confirmation in the Catholic Church.  It was a huge adult confirmation at the Cathedral in St Paul!  The Church seemed to be full of people, and such a stunningly gorgeous church it is with the huge statues, stain glass and all those things that take our hearts, minds and souls heavenward in a Catholic Church!  Our souls take flight!  I was in a long line heading towards the awe inspiring Bishop in his magnificent robes and tall hat.  Ahead of me walked my parents and the siblings around me that were old enough to be confirmed.  As we approached it became clear to me that he was laying his hands upon us to receive the Holy Spirit!  This had been done by my parents to me at 15 - 5 years before.  This was one of those moments when it struck me that this was truly the True Church, and they had it all figured out!  The Church laid hands on you to receive the Holy Spirit - you didn't have to travel to a Charismatic preacher to find this gift - it came as Confirmation!  Wow!  I look to the Church with no reservations - I am not a shopping cart Catholic - I love and believe all that the Catholic holds out to me as Truth!  It is the True Church and shows me the way to get to Heaven!

Pat's dad, Gerard, with his beef cattle.  Pat has many fond memories of spending time hauling cattle with his dad up to the Cities and taking in a Twins game.  Special time one on one with his dad in the midst of a big busy farm family is to be cherished!  Pat also has shared some sweet mind pictures of his siblings learning a good work ethic on the farm.  One of the most precious pictures is one of 3 little boys - Pat was the oldest at about 6 or 7 then the other two would just be one year and two years younger... they would carry 2 pails of feed - Pat in the middle holding the two pails on either side, and a younger brother holding the pail on either side.  The farm is a way of LIFE, and very much a family way of LIFE!

Marge, Pat's sister, who I met at Welcome week at the U of M.  This was taken just as we were getting ready to hitchhike out West.  The Lord protected us and we ended up in a Christian Commune in Boulder, Colorado!  Every birthday since - I have gushed over how the Lord once again touched me with the fingerprint of divine Providence by bringing her into my life!  Seeing Pat for the first time at her wedding 6 years later... within about 6 months we were engaged, and married 8 months later!  Our first date we shared the things that we valued in LIFE.  Firstly we both loved the Catholic Church.  Secondly we were both wanting to have a large family - open to LIFE.  When we spoke of a large family we both thought in terms of double digits... I was the oldest of 11, and Pat the 6th of 10.  Finally as I have shared quite a bit already - we both had a love of nature/the farm!  Pat was intrigued to see our farm, and realized that it was a hobby farm and not really what he knew to be a true farm.  But he did meet the farmer that had sold us the building site and farmed the land around it, and was impressed by the fact that he was a hard working dairy farmer and had hands as big as Pat's.  "He's the only man I have met with hands as big as mine!"  A new respect was born from that meeting of two well built farmers... both were milking cows at the time.  Now Pat has beef cows that have a calf each year.  So we still have the newborn calves, and that recently started for this year.  After our first date and seeing that we had the same values and what we wanted to find in a spouse - we thought - "Why not?" 

Another early Catholic family picture taken at the farm...We look cold but I was very warm inside of my heart and soul! 
Pat and I proceeded towards our wedding date set for August 3, 1978 at the Bascilica of St Mary in downtown Minneapolis.  First we were to attend our engagement weekend in St Paul with many other couples.  Pat and I shared with great excitement that we were open to family, and wanted to have many children.  We were very disappointed to have no other couple agree with us.  They all said that they wanted to have at most 2, some one or none due to the mess that the world was in.  It even made me question if we were being selfish to want to have a lot of children.  When I asked Pat this question - he did not hesitate one minute..."The world needs LIGHTS." he told me.  I was immediately brought to an instantaneous Peace by this statement of Truth!  This is what our entire marriage has been based upon, and there has never been a moment's hesitation or veering from this course!  Pat has shared numerous times about a priest that very powerfully affected him while in the Catholic School.  A newly ordained Fr Harry Tasto would take the boys into a room and speak to them about how with all the horrible historical things that were happening in the world then... the assasination of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, the race riots, and the Viet Nam war.  He shared that we are called to make a difference, and that we are called to be LIGHTS in this world if we want it to mke theworld a better place!  Recently we met Fr Harry at a funeral.   I felt like I was meeting a rock star, and I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to share with him about how much he touched Pat and was responsible for our entire marriage - that the Lord would make a way.  Well, he walked up to us, and I was able to bowl him over with our "story!"  I think he was totally shocked, but I tearfully thanked him for giving us the motto that we have lived by without hesitation - The World needs LIGHTS!

Thank you, Fr Harry!  Well, I say that we have never veered from the path called being open to family and raising Lights.  And I call Pat my Champion for LIFE, and that is what he truly is.  Our Path has not been easy with 5 children with us, and 6 losses in Heaven.  We have our 11, and I will always remember going in for the 11th one - a mischarriage at 3 1/2 months - I named her a girl for the first time - Mary.  I had always felt that I was unable to carry boys, so they are all named boys names... Christopher, Thomas, Joseph, William, Robert, and Mary.  I was telling my doctor, who happened to be the Planned Parenthood doctor in town...( Pat asked me many times if we should go to the prolife doctor instead - "No, he needs to know that there are people like us in this world!")  "well, Dr, I told you that I would have 11 kids and now I have 5 here and 6 in heaven."  "Oh no," he told me," I will never forget.  You came in for your first prenatal visit and told me...'I am going to have 12 kids!' "   Well, I never did have that 12th, although at one point they thought I might be pregnant with twins so there might be 7 there when I get to heaven!?!  There will be one big happy crowd, and they keep me on the straight and narrow with their LOVE and prayers!  With all the hardship and pain and loss - Pat never once told me that we should stop or prevent!  We were very open in our family with the news of a pregnancy, and when there was a loss - we grieved together and shared the pain of loss.  There are no secrets and only openness in our family.  I was advised to keep it quiet until I knew that I was going to have a living baby, for sure.  But I couldn't, and I see now that the result of sharing this so openly was the love for LIFE that we all share, and the appreciation and love for each other!  We are very close and there is nothing that we will not share in prayer and LOVE as a family.  My 3rd daughter, Maria, has followed down my path with two losses in the midst of her journey called domestic church/family.  I had prayed so hard that my girls would not have to experience the loss, but not only did she lose 2 after having her first two children, but I was with her both times that she lost them!  So hard, but as her older sister reminded me... "Mom, who better to be with her, and if you were not there - you would be longing to be there and guide and support her in prayer and expereince."  Maria too has shared her pain with the other children - her oldest, now 4 year old Therese... said so sweetly after she was told that mom was losing the second one - "Mom, when we get to heaven we are going to have to have a big van for all those kids!"  She is learning at a very young age to LOVE LIFE and value it at all costs.  Horton has it right!  "A Person is a person, no matter how small!"

A few months after we were married - the True Champion of LIFE and LOVE became our beloved Pope John Paul II!  If I look to Pat as my champion for LIFE - I looked to John Paul as the one who taught us of the importance to raise LIGHTS by working hard to bring the Church into our HOME - our domestic Church/family!  What JOY!  He was with us each day of our journey until April 2, 2005!  Within our home we brought the JOY of our Faith alive by sharing the Lives of the Saints, decades of the rosary, reading the Bible together, and the exuberant and silly Praise and Worship camp songs I knew from my Protestant days!  I am not saying that we gathered every night, but we made a real effort during Advent and Lent to gather together and share our Faith in our domestic Church!  The Lives of the Saints were especially powerful for us to share.  The kids had many favorites that they would ask for - St Rita, St Maria Goretti, St Therese... what did the Saints teach us?  No matter what the obstacles of LIFE with Christ all is possible and we can persevere!  I was so blessed to be home with my growing nest for 14 years, and there was much pain of loss shared - with the 6 that were called to Heaven.  The two most painful were the two boys I lost after John - I carried them each 5 months and discovered they had died by not finding the heartbeat at my 5 month visit.  They are both buried at the cemetary, and as John graduated and left for college - their loss was felt by my husband very much.  Thinking that two other sons - maybe one or both could have loved the farm, as their dad does.  John was out there a lot with his dad, but never felt the pull to become a farmer.  Now in seminary to listen to the call after surviving a year long battle to beat brain cancer - answering the question - "Why was I spared?"  Here is an article that appeared in our diocesan newspaper in January and is the journey of John from his perspective...
and here is the link to John's caringbridge site from which this blog began 3 years ago..

My 14 years at home in my nest years - I call the best and the worst of my life as they encompass my years of childbearing.  The call to respect LIFE was always strong in me.  I decided in the first year of our marriage that I wanted to do more than just say I was prolife - I joined a group of mostly Catholic women that were a bit older than I in our local Birthright chapter.  I was learning to do a pregnancy test - we offer free ones to girls as a way to get them to come in and discuss the options - and I discovered that I was pregnant with our first daughter!  We had longed to get pregnant right away, but as it was I was only 5 months pregnant on our first anniversary.  We had learned natural family planning after being married for a few months without a pregnancy... we wanted to use it to get pregnant!  I have charted my cycles from that point until I went into menopause.   I have every cycle written down and each of the 11 times I got pregnant are marked with JOYFUL exclamation points!  And each time there was a loss... much gut-wrenching sadness.  Sometimes I will look back and read some of my comments on the pages... I now see in my own daughters that they barely have a new baby in their arms and they are already thinking about the next one... that was so me!!!  It is kind of humbling to see yourself in your kids like that.  My work at Birthright has been to answer the phone in our home, when the girls call.  I also have worked Monday night at the office and have had a few touching stories from that.  One young girl is now a nurse, and her name is Amanda Hope!  She was almost not here, as her mother was too terrified to tell her parents.  She and the father are now married and I have received a most grateful Christmas greeting from them over the years.  Knowing the LIGHT that Amanda has become makes me that much more sad to think of the millions of LIGHTS that have been extinguished through abortion!

Our 3 oldest standing outside the Bascilica of St Mary on a visit to the Cities.
One thing that has resulted from Pat's firm direction as our family Champion of LIFE... all of our children are totally to devoted to protecting and fighting for LIFE!  Our oldest daughter, Ruth,is married to Paul and they live just 3 miles from us here in Marshall.  All 3 of our girls got pregnant right away and celebrated their first anniversary with a 3 month old!  I guess the Lord skipped a generation in answering Pat and my prayer for this...  Ruth had a C-section to get Simon here alive, and ruptured trying to have her second.  She was told no more children by our doctor here in town.  Crushed she went to the Catholic woman doctor, who saved her uterus in emergency surgery.  Paul and Ruth were told that they had a 90% chance of having another, if they allowed her uterus to heal for a year and then with careful monitoring and a C-section when the baby was ready... all would be well.  Ruth then learned to use the Creighton Model method of natural planning, and even became an instructor!  She has had two "miracle babies" since - David now 4 and Rose, who is 10 months!  She helps other couples use natural means to prevent, or to look into infertility according to the wisdom of our glorious Church! 

One of my absolute favorite icons - Jesus eating Mary's chin out of shere LOVE for her.  I have watched Ruth's children do this to her, and it speaks of the devotion they have for their wonderful mother, who sacrifices to give them LIFE and LOVE.  Why would Jesus be any different with His Mother - the Mother of God?
Nancy, our second oldest, worked in an American Indian Alternative School in downtown Minneapolis for 3 years before she married.  There she encountered so much pregnancy outside of marriage, and very sad lives.  She got the job as the woman before her had taken a 15 year old to get an abortion, and the young girl then tried to kill herself.  Ironically this same young girl now came pregnant to Nancy as now 16 year old.  Nancy took her to the crisis pregnancy center, where her sister Maria worked - one with a Eucharistic chapel and an ultrasound machine in it!  This girl then delivered her son, and kept in touch with Nancy.  Nancy met with girls, who shared that they had appointments for a abortion the next day - begging them to give her the child to raise along with her son... she was pregnant shortly after her marriage, and also celebrated her first anniversary with a 3 month old!  "The girl never came in the next day, and my heart sank to know that another life has been lost!"  We recently had a very powerful experience as a family - this also while Nancy was pregnant with her son, Augustine, lent 2 years ago.  We prayed outside an abortion clinic close to their Church - we prayed all 18 decades of the rosary, and we had along Ruth's 3 young children.  I had sat the two older ones down, and told them the shocking news that some moms don't understand the beautiful LIFE within them, and kill their baby through abortion.  They looked at grandma with big shocked and worried eyes that this could happen!  Then when we arrived there were those huge horrible posters of babies torn to pieces, and they were deeply shocked by the graphic sight.  They have spiritually adopted babies and pray for them by name!
http://www.spiritualadoption.org/  To do this yourself - here is the site

The arrival of our 4th daughter,Susan... her sisters meeting her for the first time!  So precious is LIFE, O Lord!
The little one touching her sister is then 2 year old Maria!  She entered St Thomas University determined to find a E-free church and leave the Catholic Church.  She mentioned this to a seminarian there and he said - "We need to talk."  The result of this and our prayers - she never missed a Sunday mass and started going to daily mass!  She entered Catholic Studies, studied in Rome for a year, and came back to enter a Poor Clare Monastery and consider a call to cloistered contemplative life of prayer after reading - The Story of a Soul by St Therese of Lisieux!  All the time of her college and after when she married, after discerning that she was not called to be a Poor Clare after 5 months... she worked and volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy center!  The one I mentioned with a Eucharistic chapel in it as well as an ultrasound machine, so that women can see that it is a baby with arms and legs and a beating heart and not a lump of tissue! 

One of those precious mom's shoe pictures - I love with Ruth and Nancy! 
Maria has prayed outside abortion clinics and done the very hard job of answering the crisis phone and talking to desperate and scared women.  How to get them to realize that this is a precios gift from God/LIFE and that if they kill it - the life of living with the damage and guilt is not to be so easily walked away from?  So many prayers!!!
Our two youngest Susan/Hallel and John too have taken up the cause for LIFE.  Little Sister Hallel is a religious sister - she also studied in Rome for a year and met her Community of the Lamb there.  They are an amazing group of men and women! 
http://www.communityofthelambusa.org/  Here is their site of the first American foudation just 7 hours away in Kansas City, Kansas! 

A favorite picture of our only son, John, with his nephew Simon Lanoue about 6 years ago.  John loves LIFE and is hugely supportive of his sisters and the new LIFE they are openly bringing into the world!  When Nancy just had a scare in her early pregnancy - he gathered with some of his fraternity brothers to pray a rosary right then and there!  They had a powerful experience of the door blowing open and shut while they were praying - "The Holy Spirit came in!"  Recently John passed forward his Prayer Army to his new nephew, Patrick, as he was born dead after a traumatic birth and was 20 minutes without oxygen!  Through the Church and prayers - Patrick is now healed and we are touched by God once more.  If you wish to follow the story of Patrick - you may go to October 9, 2012 and follow the story from there! 

Pat with John putting up a new fence around the pasture some years back.
One last thing I would like to share here, as this has to end at some point here...I realize that I am writing my life story of the last 34 years - and therefore it seems to have no end as it truly is still being LIVED!  A most amazing letter that Hallel sent to her sister, Nancy, on the occassion of her engagement! 
"I am writing you,aren't you impressed? Well, you better be because both you and I know how often this happens. I am writing to tell you now extremely excited I am about your engagement to Bill. I have to admit, when I got the news I wasn't really shocked but that night as it sunk in during adoration and the next day during mass I was so happy. My heart overflowed with joy for you. How beautiful to know that you have found your... most cherished cross. While I have never had the experience of being married, from what I hear is that he will truly be your cross. But not your cross as human eyes look at it, as a thing to run away from, as a thing of torture but rather as that which is truly the tree of life. It is only when clinging to the cross that one can truly live, it is the source of all life and of all love. Your marriage to Bill will be this, not something to run away from when it gets hard and when it hurts, but something to hold tight to, especially when it hurts because it is in this that you will find life and love. Know that it is through your marriage that Jesus wants to show you his great love for you and also that the best example that you can give to the world of Christ's love is a marriage lived in truth. So, in other words, know that I am so happy for you and that I love you a whole lot. Know that you are in my prayers during this crazy time of wedding planning; that you may not go crazy but rather learn to love each other better and that you may both have great joy and great peace. Remember to pray for me too! God Bless, Your little Sister Hallel"
This letter was such a gift to all of us!  I now call with great JOY my husband - Patrick Gerard Joseph Verly - My Most Cherished Cross!  I know that through embracing Pat/My Most Cherished Cross I have brought LIFE into the world, and together we have strived to raise LIGHTS for the world!  We have seen that through the Cross of Jesus we find LIFE everlasting, and LOVE beyond anything that we could ever deserve!  WE experienced this through our experience with the Cross called cancer/healing/seminary with our son, John.  Once again with the Cross called Patrick's traumatic birth!  We know that Paschal mystery - through the Cross we find LIFE, LOVE, and LIGHT!  Our Bishop wrote us when we were facing the regrowth of John's brain cancer through the chemo... when in times of fear and distress repeat the words - "Jesus, I trust in you." St Fautina - the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This has become our strength and hope!

In Michigan with my sister, Mary,under my arm.  She has been gone 27 years now.
Jesus, we trust in you.  Bless-bless, Barb
Mary with her premature daughter, Audrey.  A life that came to us - a part of Mary still remains - LIFE continues!

Peaceful farm scene - Pat and John in the back pasture!

So blessed by my girls and their taking on the torch for LIFE!  They are truly LIGHTS in the world!  Thank you, Jesus!

Pat with our oldest, Ruth Ida, on Easter morning 1982.  My champion for LIFE!

Also taken on Easter - the ever famous John falling down- Easter Hat picture from 1992 in Taylors Falls, MN!!

The 4 girls in the million dollar rain picture in their summer jamies! 

Pregnant with Susan in Bascilica for the wedding of my brother.

Yes!  With 4 girls - I sewed them matching clothes - how could I not?  Yes!  And me too!  A precious keepsake, and they all had ribbons in their hair as did I and I still do!  What am I supposed to do with a drawer of hair accessories?  Use them right?  There was a collective shout for joy when we walked into church the first Sunday with our blue bundle - John Patrick after our wonderful 4 girls!  How I prayed that the Lord would give us one more so that people would know that we had not stopped having kids after we finally got our boy!  But there were 3 losses only!  Now when people say - "You finally stopped after you got your boy."
  I might have the time and energy to tell them the story, but it just makes me very sad!  No!  We wanted to have 12 kids!  We have 6 or maybe 7 in Heaven, because I must need a lot of prayers!

John-John wearing the same jacket that all 4 girls wore ahead of him! 

A boy!!!  We are truly surprised and happy!  John Patrick Augustine born Feb 3,1989

My dad baptizing our oldest Gift-from-God, Ruth Ida Rose

Wedding day with my parents - my dad married us as a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church

The best family days - canning!!

Ruth and Paul having their marriage blessed by Blessed John Paul II - November 2003

The famous 4 girls in snowsuit picture - Susie wore the green jacket that year!  All 5 wore it ! 

The family at the County Fair - 4H was and is very big in our lives - now the grandkids are showing beef and pigs and other projects!

1 comment:

  1. Many smiles as I read this... and a few moments where I teared up, too. Every young couple should read this story and catch a glimpse into what God has planned for a husband and wife who are totally devoted to His Plan for them.