History & Mission: "this has unlocked the Rule ... think of the consequences of what that can be for the faithful globally! I mean universally! Isn’t it amazing?" - Bishop Caggiano


Episode transcript:
Steve: Before Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, he wrote a Rule to help married couples understand and live the truth of Humanae Vitae. And so today on Let Me Be Frank, we have as our guests, Theresa and Peter Martin. They are, well, they're experts on this Rule, and they have created an apostolate and written a book to help married couples grow closer to each other and to the Lord using John Paul II's Rule. 

Keep your radio here at 1350 AM and 103.9 FM to hear this excellent conversation, or keep us on your phone with the Veritas app. And if you're listening to Let Me Be Frank on podcast, please be sure to rate us, review us, give us five stars, and help us reach more souls. 

Big thank you to our sponsor, Foundations in Faith.  

Okay, here we go. This is Let Me Be Frank on the Veritas Catholic Network. I'm Steve Lee, and it is my great pleasure, as always, to introduce Bishop Frank Caggiano.

Bishop: Steve, good morning. It's always good to see you, my friend.

Steve: Nice to see you, excellency.

Bishop: We have some great guests today.

Steve: We do. I'm really excited. There's been a lot of stuff happening in my life focused around marriage and Christian marriage and being a good Catholic husband. It must be a sign.

Bishop: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, God sometimes is not as subtle as we would want him to be.

Steve: So I'm very excited. So without any delay, I'm just going to introduce our guests.

Bishop: Yeah, please.

Steve: So we have joining us Peter and Theresa Martin. Peter and Theresa were married in New Orleans in 2001. They began dating while studying abroad in Rome. And during their engagement, they answered a call to serve married couples, which took them back to Rome, not a bad place to go. Both of them to pursue graduate degrees in theology. And now they reside in Wisconsin with their eight children, the oldest, who is now a freshman at Franciscan. And actually, excellency, make sure you ask them about their artist son too. So and then Peter is the director of the offices of life, marriage and family and communications for the Diocese of Winona, Rochester. And Theresa is a homeschooling mother, author, and executive director of the Wojtyla Community and Institute. Peter and Theresa, thank you very much for joining us today. 

Peter: Yeah, it's our pleasure. 

Theresa: Thanks for having us.

Bishop: Yeah, I'm thrilled, my goodness. But now we're going to have to, usually I ask my guests, tell us your life, like your, the history of your faith journey, really. And it seems like your journeys converged in Rome. So you can answer this question any way you want. How did we get here? How did you get to where you are now?

Peter: Well, I'll begin. I was the youngest in my family. My older brother was studying to be a priest and everyone always said you'd make a great priest as well. So I too was in seminary for many years, but I never felt that God was calling me. I was always trying to get out of the seminary. My final semester, I finally decided I'm going to leave the seminary. I'm going to go to Rome, finish my last semester in college. And my brother was studying there. I thought this would be a great way to finish off my career. And lo and behold, my beautiful wife was also studying that semester. And so we became friends, started dating there. And I suppose a year later got married. And as Steve said, we were blessed to return to Rome because we had already studied there. We were somewhat comfortable with living in Rome. And so went there to pursue our graduate degrees in theology. 

Theresa: I grew up in New Orleans and I always had a heart for Jesus, even though I might have gone a little wayward in high school. But there wasn't ever a big conversion in my life. And I came up to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota for undergrad. And yeah, just at that point, just really pouring into my faith. I went on the study abroad and that's where I met Pete. And it just, for me, growing up, my family was more ecumenical focused. Like we'd never missed Sunday mass or anything, but they were part of this ecumenical community. And going to Rome, being part of the Catholic Studies program really brought me deeper into my Catholic faith. And then at the same time, though, I think somewhere in my dad's mind, he always thought, I'm one of seven. And he always thought I was going to be a religious sister or something. So he was a little, he didn't seem quite as excited when we got engaged until he found out that then I was getting, because they named me after St. Therese, St. Theresa, you know, and that when he found out that St. Therese, the little flower's real last name was Martin, but Mart-an French, then he was sold, that he was like bragging to everybody about how it's going to be named like St. Therese. But I think our story is one of like a continual conversion.
I mean, God has been so gracious to us. We went to the pre-cana like for our marriage prep and it was so horrible that that inspired us to do something about it. And God, so he can use anything, you know, it was just awful. And we're like, OK, the church needs help. And we were here and we're open. And we always we both all our lives felt this calling to serve God, but didn't realize it was in marriage. So that's why we went back to Rome and God continually using our marriage to heal each other, to grow closer to him. And yeah, it's just it but it's it always gets deeper. And I feel like where I look back and be like, wow, I never knew anything back then, you know, but every day is a journey. 

Bishop: Yeah, my goodness. And with eight children, it's an adventure, not just a journey. My goodness.

Theresa: never boring.
Peter: Yeah, absolutely. 

Bishop: But now I have a question for each of you. And it's so so Peter, you are the director of the Office of Life, Marriage and Family. And did I understand you, Steve, say, and also communications?

Peter: That's correct.

Bishop: So that's an interesting combination.

Peter: So I guess almost four years ago, our diocese was in bankruptcy. It was COVID and the director left. So, of course, when you're in bankruptcy, you can't hire.So they said, Pete, could you cover this until we get out of bankruptcy?

Theresa: Temporarily.

Bishop: Yeah, it's temporarily. Four years. Gosh.

Peter: And the real funny thing is, as the director of communications, I was one of those that was able to learn the pontifical secret of who the new bishop would be. And of course, when I found out it would be Bishop Robert Barron, I thought, oh boy, that'll be his first new hire. He's not going to want this guy as his communications director. But it's almost been two years and here I am still directing. Yeah, Diocese, it's a yeah. 

Bishop: Well, you know what I think? Well, first we have a bishop who's a great communicator, number one. But also it gives you an intriguing possibilities because you both have means and content, right? In a sense, because as the director of communication, you can give the ministry, not that it has exclusive, obviously, there's lots of things the church does, but he gives some real headway to get a lot of what you want to do. A hearing, which is great. It's a great advantage, even though it's a lot of work.

Peter: It's all in God's providence. I look back and I say, why did I say yes? But God knows why and he'll use this and I'll look back and say, oh, wow, it's because I was director of communications that I know how to do these things.

Bishop: Right. Theresa, you went to Maryvale Institute in England, correct? I've heard a lot about it. Tell us what it is, actually, the Institute. 

Theresa: It's a remote study and it's mostly for citizens of the United Kingdom, but so that they can come for study weekends, but then do most of the studying, so it's reading and a lot of reading, a lot of reading, and a lot of writing essays, and that's how you process through when you work with your tutor, that's what they call the professors for each segment, as you're working through all this material. So it's a lot of self-guided work, but yeah, it's a lot of work, which I did between midnight and 2 AM.

Bishop: Oh my gosh. God bless you. Yes. 

Theresa: Well, it was the only option. I got stuck in between. We left mid-semester the fourth year we were in Rome. I had complications with the pregnancy, Gregory's pregnancy at that time, and so I didn't complete the classes there in Rome, and they wouldn't accept because I started them, they wouldn't accept any credits. And it's a whole thing, so I got stuck. So Maryvale gave me the opportunity to still continue, you know, being at home with my kids and yet get the master's degree, because that's what we had always imagined, is that we would both have graduate degrees in marriage and family.

Peter: Our plan was to both finish the license in theology at the John Paul II Institute in Rome, but God had other plans. We returned to the United States in 2004, and I was able to go back to the Institute in DC and finish my license. But of course, Theresa was, we had started our family at that point. So we had three boys by the time I finished my license. 

Theresa: And it was one of these things, like I was always the nerdier one. Pete has more fun, like fixing cars, working with his hands. He's a farm boy. I love the studies and I love learning. And so it was a big humble pie for me to swallow, to not pursue my graduate degree at that time. But thank God that I was able to do that. 

Bishop: Absolutely.

Theresa: Going back to Maryville is when I was introduced to the rule and given the Italian copy of the rule by the woman who directed my dissertation. Yeah. And it was beautiful because she's a single woman working for the church. And she said, I know exactly. She asked me if I remembered my Italian. I said, yes, a little bit. And she said, I know exactly what you need to do your dissertation on. She got it. She gave it to me. She said, "this has been waiting for you." And she like puts it in my hands. We had no idea what a prophetic moment that was. And she said, there's a Rule in here that JP II wrote for married couples. You got to read it and you can do something with it. I can't, you can, your mother, your wife, you can access it. So yeah, it was pretty remarkable.

Bishop: So consider, so consider this. I don't think this is an exaggeration, but the fact that you were both faithful, the Lord put your paths to cross, fell in love, have entered into the sacrament, raising a family, all your education. And, Theresa, you having that moment with this person has unlocked the rule to the English-speaking world. And think of the consequences of what that can be for the faithful globally. I mean, universally in the English-speaking world. Isn't it amazing how God works?
Theresa: It's amazing. It's very humbling. 

Bishop: Yes. Yeah, it's amazing. I must tell you that I'm just curious. Don't answer this question if you don't want to. I just can't help myself, right? But you said something very interesting, Peter. You said, living in Rome, you were somewhat comfortable. And being an Italian, I think I know exactly what that means. 

Peter: We were comfortable with the school, but living in Rome had its challenges. 

Bishop: Oh, I know your pain, brother. I understand exactly what you mean. Having lived there myself. 

Peter: We longed to go back and we always said after living there for four years, we said, you know, next time we come back, it would be nice to live here and have some money. Because we had enough to get by, so we could pay rent and we could get a little bit of food.

Theresa: I love the Italian people and the culture and the food. Like my kids are so spoiled because I still, that's part of like my creative outlet is to cook nice meals. And it's like they're going to have to be priests because not their wife would never be able to live up to this.It's like nostalgia over time in Italy and, you know, but the efficiency and the like getting things done factors just as an American, it was a hard adjustment.

Bishop: You know, it's interesting. Every culture is different, obviously, and being raised as in an Italian household, my parents were immigrants, it's and having lived there. Now, this was in the beginning of the 90s.I was there from 91 to 96. Now, I could imagine, of course, my relatives are still there. To see the role of the family and how it has, I was going to say evolved, it's actually devolved. In Italian culture. It's sobering. When we talk about marriage, we also talk about family life. They go hand in hand. A lot has been lost, particularly as, and of course, I don't mean to be a social critic, but the Italian culture has been so affected by American way of doing things. 

Peter: Yeah. They used to say that if it rains in New York, the Italians bring out their umbrellas. Yeah, exactly. Right. They want to do whatever America is doing. Sadly, it was effective. I've got friends who have been there recently, and they said Rome is so different. It doesn't feel like an ancient city any longer.

Bishop: Before we get to the rule, because I want you to spend a good amount of time telling us what exactly have you discovered, how is this going to positively affect and guide married life? From your perspective, from your neck of the woods, where you are in the Midwest, I guess it's the Midwest, right? Yep.What's the state of married life? Theresa, you mentioned like the pre-Kana was a disaster when you went through it, which a lot of, I think, couples may unfortunately have that experience. But how do you assess like right now in the life of the church?Where are we? What do you think?Yeah, it's difficult because the culture has informed our young couples a number of things. Number one, they should look out for number one and they should make sure that they have all the things that everybody else has. Social media has accelerated that.


From Let Me Be Frank | Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Podcast | Diocese of Bridgeport, CT: John Paul II's Rule of Life for Married Couples!, May 1, 2024https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/let-me-be-frank-bishop-frank-caggianos-podcast-diocese/id1500335723?i=1000654191729This material may be protected by copyright.