Each Friday, I share a Friday Feature where I hope to bring a little light and encouragement from other Catholics living out the vocation to married and family life.
I love witnessing how others are following Christ and am constantly inspired by them. My goal with Friday Feature is to bring you a breath of fresh air and some community by sharing their stories.
Enjoy, laugh, be inspired, and pray for all those you see on here. We’re in this together!
FRIDAY FEATURE: JEANETTE & ERIC
Jeanette and I served on a week long mission trip together in Honduras in college. She is gifted with a sincerity and genuine joy that is rare these days and when you meet her it shines through. Jeanette and Eric have an incredibly strong marriage and I think you’ll find their commitment to serving the Church in every circumstance their vocation brings them to inspiring and encouraging.
ANGIE (A): Share with us a little about you – how you met, a little history, and where God has you today.
JEANETTE & ERIC (J/E): Eric and I (Jeanette) are high school sweethearts. We started dating when we were sophomores in high school and stayed together through high school and college. Even when God led me to transfer to Franciscan University we stayed together. It was a tough 3 years apart but God really used that time to form each of us spiritually as we are separated. We got married in August of 2007 a few months after I graduated, after a whole 7 1/2 years of dating. Eric is a Chiropractor and I recently left my job, after 8 years of teaching high school theology at our Alma Mater, to stay home with our 3 beautiful children, ages 5, 3 1/2, and 16 months. God has abundantly blessed us over these past 9 years of marriage.
A: When dating, what was something you did that helped build trust and maturity of faith together as a couple
J/E: While we dated one of the biggest growing experiences was our 3 years apart while I (Jeanette) was at Franciscan University. There is nothing like being thousands of miles away from each other to build trust in a relationship. But even more than building trust in each other, that 3 years apart built our trust in God and his plan for us. During that time apart, God grew each of us spiritually in a way that might not have happened with us together. At Franciscan, I grew so much in my faith surrounded by a vibrant faith community. I was able to attend daily mass, frequent confession, and participate in household life, daily prayer time, mission trips, retreats and so much more. Without a strong community of faith around him to lean on for support Eric was led to grow in a much different way. God called Eric to begin attending a weekly Holy Hour, which was on Monday mornings from 2-3am. He also developed a strong devotion to Mary through his daily rosary, and he even became an altar server at the age of 20. Eric remembers being the oldest person at the altar server training. I (Jeanette) had a lot of fear that during our time apart, my faith would grow and Eric’s would remain stagnant and things wouldn’t work out when I got home. How little faith I had in what God could do. Boy did He prove me wrong!
A: Something recent you’ve been led to do is train as a Creighton FertilityCare Practioner. Explain the process of becoming one.
J/E: Becoming a Creighton FertilityCare Practitioner is much more involved than I realized when I said yes to the program, but it has been such a rewarding experience and I love what I do. It is designed as an 18 month program during which students participate in a 2 part supervised internship. At the beginning of each internship phase, students attend a week long education phase led by our supervisors and Creighton trained Medical Consultants. Our training covers topics like, history of NFP methods, reproductive anatomy and physiology, as well as extensive teaching in case management.
During our 18 month program we are required to complete assignments, send case files and check in with our supervisor frequently. We have to meet client quotas at each phase of our program and have an onsite visit where our supervisors observe us with an actual client. Once we have met all the requirements in the education and internship phase we are given permission to sit for our final exam. It’s a long process and a lot of hard work, but the program really prepares us well for this allied health profession. I am proud to be a part of it all. Earlier this year my colleague and I opened Restore FertilityCare Center where we work with our clients here locally in Southern California as well as long distance via Skype.
A: What lead you to serve the Church and other couples in this way?
J/E: I originally learned to chart my fertility with Creighton during college in preparation for marriage. I love what NFP has done for my husband in I in our marriage and I really believe in using Natural Family Planning for so many reasons. I was invited to become a practitioner by the chaplain of the high school where I was teaching at the time. I said yes because I strongly believe in NFP. I am passionate about Theology of the Body and about the wisdom in the church’s teaching on NFP, so it was a natural fit for me. This work has provided me with so many opportunities to share Theology of the Body all over my diocese since I get invited to speak quite often.
A: What other ministries are you involved in as a couple?
J/E: Two years ago we attended a Marriage Encounter Weekend together and our involvement in this ministry has made a tremendous impact on our marriage and family life. After our weekend we became heavily involved in our local Marriage Encounter community and we were invited to be on the presenting team. Finally, this past May, we attended our training weekend called a “Deeper Weekend” where we were taught how to give the weekends for others. We are currently in the process of preparing our first set of talks.
A: If there was one sentence you could give to newly engaged couples as a piece of advice, what would you say
J/E: Fervently pray for each other daily, frequent the sacraments together as often as possible, and love intensely.
A: Share the funniest thing you’ve experienced as a couple.
J/E: We have so many silly and goofy memories together. Many of them come from our high school years together, like the time Eric was trying to reenact the The Rock’s “People’s Elbow” and lost his balance, successfully completing the wrestling move on the concrete, which eventually earned him the nickname “Erock.” That was only an indication of all the fun we would have in the years to come, and it only got better with kids.
A: What about the hardest thing you’ve been through as a couple?
J/E: One of the hardest things we’ve had to deal with as a couple was handling a serious situation with a family member who was not part of our immediate family. We had to really pray and discern what was the most charitable and yet the most prudent way to confront the situation. We prayed, talked about it together, sought advice from a trustworthy priest, and then we decided TOGETHER how we were going to handle it. The biggest piece of advice for handling challenges would be to remember that no matter what, your spouse (and your children) is your primary vocation. So, if you are ever wondering what the right thing to do is, start by asking God what you need to do to best honor your vocation and live your vows. Everything else comes second.
A: How do you pray together daily as a couple? Give us some practical tips.
J/E: The simplest ways we pray together are in normal every day things, like grace before meals, prayers before bed with our kids, and attending Mass together as a family. Also, we write a short daily prayer for each other as part of the daily love letters that we write to one another, which we exchange in the evening before bed. We pray a monthly Rosary together with our Marriage Encounter community couples and Eric and I try to renew our Marian Consecration annually. We occasionally choose novena’s to pray together as well.
A: Who would you consider the patron saints of your marriage and why?
J/E: Is it cheating to say all of them? At our wedding we actually had both of our parents lay hands on us while we had the Litany of Saints sung. We actually added this to our ceremony just after the Coins and Lasso tradition that is common in many Hispanic and Filipino wedding traditions. However, we did replace some of saint names in the original with ones that we wanted to ask for intersession. Among those were, St. Francis, St. Padre Pio, St. Sebastian, St. Therese, St. Bernadette, St. Maxamillian Kolbe, St. Gianna, and St. Anthony, just to name a few.