Jamaila and Andy’s story began with the Frassati Fellowship of NYC, a young adult group inspired by the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Andy's experience with the group began the year he moved to New York to discern a life with the Community of the Franciscan Friars of Renewal. He later discerned out and moved back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, but stayed in contact with the order’s vocations director, Fr. Gabriel, CFR, who invited him to his first Frassati Fellowship retreat.
Andy left the retreat with a renewed desire for community. Soon after, he returned to the city, became a regular at Frassati, and later led the group's music ministry.
Meanwhile, Jamaila had begun working in the city around the time Andy was with the CFRs, attending one young adult event to another in search of other faithful professionals. But it would be five years before her path brought her to Frassati, and to Andy.
In 2015, Jamaila signed up for a mission trip to Peru with Frassat. Despite her reservations about making the trip from New Jersey to Queens, felt the Holy Spirit nudging her to attend a party for the missionaries prior to the trip. Like her, Andy also initially planned not to attend. At the last minute, he hopped on a bus from Manhattan to Astoria.
That night, Jamaila and Andy spent the entire party talking about their families and shared love of the outdoors. To Jamaila’s disappointment, Andy didn't ask for her number, and she left that night thinking she’d never see him again.
Much to her surprise, she received an email from Andy the following month, telling her about a hike with the group. Neither ended up going, but that note was the start of a correspondence, You’ve Got Mail-style, with constant emails throughout the day.
Three months after their first meeting, the two went on their first date to the New York Botanical Gardens. Soon after, atop a small mountain reserve upstate, Andy asked Jamaila to be his girlfriend as the sun was going down.
She took a picture of sunset with her instant film camera, writing on the film, "Lead me to adventures. Lead me to Christ. I'll follow."
Eight months later, at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Lindenwold, New Jersey, Andy proposed.
From the Bride: During our first conversation, we learned we shared the same “Top 3” loves: God, family, and the outdoors. We planned for all three to be a part of our wedding day.
We chose to marry on the Feast of St. Jude to honor my devotion to him, the patron of hope and impossible causes. Our nuptial Mass was concelebrated by six priests, with our hope that our wedding witness not just to the sacrament of marriage, but also to the various vocations God calls us to, by having our religious brothers and sisters attend the wedding.
Starting the night before the wedding when we decorated the venue together, we were surrounded by our family and friends throughout. We used various greens as décor, from ferns tossed between our candlelit jars to the ivy hung as our photo booth backdrop to the eucalyptus in my bouquet.
My rings are inspired by God and his creation. They’re a sign of love: for God, His love for us, Andy’s and my love for each other, and our shared love of nature. My engagement ring has three stones, a reminder to keep him at the center of our relationship: in the center is a pearl, delicate like our hearts, always in need of his purifying grace. It was kept in its natural shape, unfinished, just like us. God isn't finished with us. The side stones reflect the silence of mountains and shadows of the setting sun. They appear pink and purple under the evening sky, and when the morning light hits, they turn blue-green like the ocean. My branch-like wedding band holds our memories of wildflower fields, giant trees, and times spent in awe of his creation.
The night before our wedding, we had our rehearsal and more importantly, a Holy Hour. It included Praise & Worship led by Andy, confession, and Adoration. We desired to be in the presence of Christ in those last moments preparing for the sacrament. In the hours leading up to our Mass, various friends and family members asked how we felt. We could only describe it as peace.
From the get-go, we knew God made us for each other, so only his peace consumed us that morning. Our First Look before the Mass reminded me of Alice von Hildebrand’s words: she likens seeing your spouse as their true self for the first time to how the Apostles first see Christ in His Glory. She says,
“Trust this bright Tabor vision you’ve been given. Daily rekindle it in your heart and let it nurture your love. If you let it form the cornerstone of your faithfulness to your husband your marriage will be rich, indeed.”
It was truly a glimpse of Andy about to fulfill his vocation as my husband.
It was important for Andy and I to incorporate both Church traditions and cultural traditions into our wedding mass. We walked down the aisle together to signify our partnership and journey to God as one. During the Offertory, our cantor sang the Litany of Saints to invoke their prayers for our marriage. In the Filipino culture, the bride and groom are draped with a veil and cord. I had my aunt bring a veil and cord from her trip to the Philippines to incorporate into our Mass. The veil represents being clothed as one under the protection of God, and the cord symbolizes our bond. Before the final blessing we processed to a statue of Mary and laid a bouquet of flowers at her feet. As we knelt in front of our Mother, we prayed for her intercession for a holy marriage.
Leading up to the wedding, Andy and I prayed St. Josemaria Escriva's Novena for a Happy & Faithful Marriage. It helped us to stay focused on our marriage instead of the wedding itself. During our marriage prep, our priest recommended we appoint tasks to trusted friends and family during the wedding so we didn't have to worry about them. This truly helped us stay calm on the day of. Every time I look at our photos or watch our wedding video I am reminded of God's love for us.
Photography: Laurel Creative | Church: Church of Immaculate Conception of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Montclair, NJ | Reception Venue: The Woman's Club of Ridgewood - Ridgewood, NJ | Rings: Ken & Dana Designs | Veil: Twigs & Honey for J. Crew | Dress: Bijou Bridal of Philadelphia | Caterer: Leonardo's Restaurant (Lawrenceville, NJ) | Band During Mass: Scott Tran Music | DJ/Emcee During Reception: Derek Hall of The Block Party