Fatima and Jonathan met at 13 on a youth retreat and started dating long-distance from their different states. Over the next decade, they broke up before college, sensed God leading them into deeper trust, renewed their friendship and, eventually renewed their relationship after graduation. Not long after Fatima started working as a college Campus Minister at Jon's university, he asked her to be his girlfriend, for good, in the Wedding Chapel of Mary and Joseph at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
A year and a half later, on the last day of a novena to St. Joseph the Worker, Jon hatched plans with Fatima's best friend, Vania. Vania would spend the day accompanying his future bride around D.C., with a video, balloon, and letter from Jon waiting for Fatima at various sites significant to their relationship.
In Jonathan's words: Fatima and I started our relationship for the second time, as adults, in the Washington, D.C. area, where there were so many places of significance to us dating back to our early teenage years. I knew I'd ask Fatima to marry me one day, and thought often about how these places could fit in with my proposal.
The adventure I had in mind was a trip down memory lane. I met with Vania weeks prior to plan Fatima's stops at places like the church where we met as teens, the Eucharistic Adoration chapel we visited all the time at Fatima's job, Chipotle (okay, that was more for me than for her), National Harbor, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and a few other favorite date spots. The day culminated at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the place I asked Fatima to be my girlfriend all those months before.
At each stop, I'd made Fatima a video featuring certain friends and family members who'd had a profound impact on our lives--not just during the time we were dating, but even from while we were single and discerning our vocations. Vania drove Fatima around, blindfolded so everything remained a surprise, and as she'd arrive at each special spot she'd find each balloon, with a letter attached to the string. My brother, my cousin, and I were always a few steps ahead of them to set everything up.
When Fatima arrived at her final stop of the day, the Cathedral of St. Matthew, both of our families, our closest friends, and I were all hiding on one side of the church for daily Mass. Fatima was all the way on the opposite side, sitting further back. As Mass was being celebrated, my heart was beating so fast (a cliché, I know).
Once the Mass concluded, the very last letter instructed Fatima to go to back to the Wedding Chapel of Mary and Joseph and to recite the 30-day Novena we were praying together for our different work situations. It was the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker that day, May 1. Little did Fatima know, for the whole 30 days I had been specifically praying for us and for the vocation we were called to together.
Sometime while she was praying (it's a long prayer!) I basically swooped in from behind and knelt beside Fatima, finishing our novena. She cried toward the end, and I had to finish reciting the words for her. Finally, I asked her, “Will you help me get to Heaven?”
And the rest is history. I feel so blessed we have the history we do, and that it is still being made. It’s a history I am so grateful for, one that continues to give me grace every day to become a better husband to Fatima, father to our son, James, and to our daughter on the way.
Fatima and Jonathan were married in May 2015. Read more of their love story, and see their beautifully rustic, Tuscan-inspired wedding here.
Photography: Cynthia Shipp Photography