by: Theresa Martin, Executive Director
It was January 2019. I was sitting in a worn leather chair next to a tall window, paint curling away from the frame, which opened onto the courtyard of this quaint building in Birmingham, England. Used by St. John Henry Newman as his first oratory, it now housed Maryvale Institute. The modest office of my dissertation director seemed even tighter by the countless books on shelves, tables, desks, but I loved her all the more for it. A cool, damp breeze rustled some of the papers on her desk and she struggled a little to attempt to close the historic window, and looked at me.
“What do you think?” she asked as she wrote something down.
She was beginning the discussion of my dissertation topic. I confessed to her that I really did not feel inspired in any one particular direction. She suddenly looked up, her eyes widened and she almost whispered with intensity, “I know what you should use.”
She stood and moved over to the warped wooden bookcase and explained that because I had studied in Rome, Italy and because I was a wife and mother, her words trailed off. She found what she was looking for and turned towards me. With almost a sort of ceremony, she held the book in both hands and placed it into mine as she said,
“This has been waiting for you.”
She continued explaining that this book contained newly rediscovered texts by St. John Paul II and one was a Rule for Married Couple Groups written when he was Cardinal and it was written directly after Humanae Vitae was promulgated. It was in Italian, and this was the first time it had ever been published. They discovered the texts during his Cause for Canonization (the process of discerning sainthood includes looking through all the documents of the potential saint).
My professor explained that as a single woman, she really wouldn’t be the right person to expound upon this profound document. She said with my background in Italian studies and my almost two decades of marriage and family personal experience:
“It seems you have been chosen for this.”
I had no idea how prophetic that moment was at the time, but I excitedly accepted the book and the dissertation focus. Two months later, I was up to my eyeballs in Italian translation, but was mesmerized by everything I was reading. I kept sharing with Peter all the treasures I was unearthing, and we were both in awe. As a diocesan director of marriage and family, he was surprised this had never been discovered before, and we thought, we should do this! But in the very next breath we’d think, but who are we to do this?!
Yet, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave us alone and we began to move forward on this blessed mission. Our very first move was meeting over a meal with Aaron & Emily Lofy, and explaining all we had discovered up to this point. It seems they too had been chosen for this! Neither the book nor the WCI would be what it was without the selfless assistance of Emily and Aaron and the many people who have given of their time, prayers, and talents to serve the mission of spreading and living the Rule for married couple groups by St. John Paul II!
May we continue to surrender every moment of this mission to the Divine Mercy of Christ through Mary, saying Totus Tuus! along with our great intercessor, St. John Paul II. Amen.