To the ones who showed us the way
by Anna Capizzi and Walter Galvez
Marriage preparation begins long before engagement. It begins with our families, friends and communities, where we see married couples interact in daily, ordinary, and extraordinary life situations.
We learn what marriage is by watching these couples — an elderly couple at Mass helping each other into the pews; a young couple with their hands full, juggling their toddler and baby while grocery shopping; the married pair of high school language teachers with neighboring classrooms; a mom who is newly widowed and trying to stay strong for her kids.
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia), writes that “for every couple, marriage preparation begins at birth. What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment. Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision” (No. 208).
As our wedding approaches next month, we want to take a moment to honor all the married couples who have been a part of lives but most especially our parents and grandparents, who through their love for each other and for us, have prepared us for the sacrament of matrimony.
My (Anna’s) maternal grandparents emigrated from South Korea to the United States, bringing their three teenage children with them, none of whom spoke English. They opened small businesses, laboring day and night to provide for their family and to give their children and grandchildren greater opportunities than they had. They taught me what sacrifice meant and how to honor and cherish my elders.
My paternal grandparents, the son and daughter of Italian immigrants, raised five children — four boys and one daughter — working to keep the family united and to pass on their Catholic faith. I remember family Sunday suppers when I was young, playing with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and their proud faces at my First Communion.
It’s impossible to put into words how much my parents have done for me and loved me, but I will share one of our happiest moments. A few years ago, my mom went through RCIA and my dad accompanied her to every single session. After she came into full communion with the Catholic Church, my parents had their wedding blessed in the church, what I call “their church wedding.” Most people do not attend their parents’ wedding, but I loved every minute of it — the joy that echoed on that day was real and profound.
The same priest who blessed their marriage will be witnessing ours — and in the same church.
For me (Walter), both sets of my grandparents raised six children each in Colombia. My maternal grandparents balanced working in the coffee industry and raising a Catholic family, all while providing them with educational opportunities they never had.
My paternal grandfather immigrated to the U.S. and opened a bakery with my great-grandmother, which he used to support my grandmother and their children until his early death, at which point my grandmother and great-grandmother raised my father and his siblings.
It is also difficult for me to briefly describe all that my parents have contributed to my life. Something that has always been special to me was how both my parents were heavily involved in mine and my siblings’ religious education. My mother taught at the Catholic school I attended until middle school, and my dad volunteered with the Confirmation program when I was in high school. I am lucky to live in the faith life they built around me, and I look forward to continuing that with Anna as we enter married life.
To close, we will leave you with a message that Walter’s grandparents sent us (in Spanish) in their wedding RSVP that is another example of how our loved ones are accompanying us on this journey:
“Dear Anna and Walter Steven, The sacrament of holy matrimony is a community of life between two people whom God unites; it is the foundation of the family; a journey together that lasts throughout life. We pray to God for you; that He helps to carry you with love, understanding, tolerance, respect, supported by love so that you have a full married life and can overcome any obstacles that may arise. It makes us happy to be able to be witnesses of this union that fills us with pride. May the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary protect you forever. With much love, Abuelito Gilberto and Abuelita Aura.”
What a beautiful love letter that we will treasure always.
To our parents, grandparents and families — thank you. We love you.