Read: Trusting in God's plan | Our vocation to marriage by Jeremy and Mary Dowsett

Mary and Jeremy Dowsett, pictured, married seven years ago. At the time, Mary was 34 and Jeremy was 42. The couple now live in Lansing with their two sons. To mark National Vocations Awareness Week, 5-11 November, Mr and Mrs Dowsett have penned the following article which charts their consistent, prayerful desire to follow God’s will in their lives which has led them to marriage, family and, Deo volente, heaven. Jeremy and Mary write:

“As a couple who married more toward the middle of life, we feel we have to share some of our individual journeys before our paths converged.”

“Jeremy was raised in the Catholic faith, but did not have a strong personal relationship with Christ as a kid. As a teenager he fell into a lot of sin while maintaining an image as a good student. In college, some friends from evangelical traditions set him on a path toward conversion and intentionally following Jesus. In time, he went to seminary and for ten years he pastored a Protestant church. Throughout his pastorate, God was gently calling him back to the Catholic Church. In the trenches, as problems and questions arose, he repeatedly found that the Catholic Church had the most compelling answer; and so, he stepped down as pastor and returned to the Catholic Church. In some sense, made his way there for the first time.”

“Another important factor in Jeremy’s story was his civil marriage. For 15 years he was in an unhealthy and deeply wounding civil marriage that ended in divorce. When he returned to the Church, a declaration of nullity (what most people call an “annulment”) was a healing gift from the Church. As a newly single dad of two sons, he began praying for a wife. Because his conversion also meant a midlife career ‘move’, he began working as the facilities director at Church of the Resurrection, where Mary was working at the school.”

“Mary was also raised in the Catholic faith, but had a more slow, consistent development of faith. Never straying, she went to Mass, prayed, and spent time serving the poor in some way throughout college and beyond, but didn’t have a very deep understanding of her connection to Christ. After a few years of missionary work in South Africa and Peru, and a graduate degree in Pastoral Ministry, Mary returned home to East Lansing, where she eventually took a job at Resurrection. Being naturally shy, she had seldom dated, and was convinced that if she ever married, it would be to a friend, someone she had gotten to know without the stress of ‘dating’.”

“When their paths crossed at Resurrection, Mary eventually worked up the courage to ask Jeremy about his tattoos. One says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (Isaiah 61:1) in Hebrew and the other is an icon of Christ the Teacher. This opened the door to conversations about work, faith, vocations, and music. They became work friends, but nothing more. Then Mary accepted a job working for the Catholic Community of Flint and moved to Flint. While there she began a novena asking for St. Raphael’s intercession for a husband. She also returned to Lansing once a week to attend the Alpha program Jeremy was running.”

“Perhaps the move to Flint made them realize how much their friendship meant to one another, because less than two months later they began spending time together, and both began to wonder if God was answering their prayers: Jeremy’s for a wife, Mary’s for a husband.”

“They joke that they never dated – they actually dated for 3 weeks – before they got engaged; and four months later they were married. (This is not a timeline they recommend for younger couples now that they are a mentor couple at their parish!) During their engagement, each evening over the phone or before parting ways for the night, they would pray together, often sharing intentions or reading scripture. It is this life of prayer that guides their marriage now. Praying together is what keeps their marriage rooted in Christ. On any given evening they might be praying a rosary, reading scripture, doing lectio divina, praying intentions for Godchildren, a novena, or simply praying from the heart. Each life decision is made with God.”

“Their path to marriage has been a longer, and perhaps more painful, one than most, but they are grateful for every day that God took to prepare them to be a husband and a wife to each other. After seven years of marriage, the graces of the sacrament continue to give them strength and courage to help each other get to heaven. This can only be done with hearts that know Jesus, and only in knowing Him can they support one another, pray for one another and challenge one another to grow in holiness, to become saintly for His kingdom.”

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors; blessed be your name forever and ever! Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever. You made Adam and you made his wife Eve to be his helper and support; and from these two the human race has come. You said ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a helper like himself.’ Now, not with lust, but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife. Send down your mercy on me and on her, and grant that we may grow old together. Bless us with children.” They said together, “Amen, amen!” (Tobit 9:5-8)

“This passage from scripture was read during their wedding Mass. It ends with a request for the Lord to bless the couple with children. When Jeremy and Mary married, they did not enter a honeymoon phase of wedded bliss, but entered into the heart of marriage, raising two boys, 11 and 14 at the time. Their role as parents to these adopted sons is special to them. But they also pray for children of their own, to complete this union of marriage. They trust in God’s plan though, and know that whatever God’s mission is for them as they grow older (and old) together, it will be for His glory and their good. Praise be to God!”