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Conversations that last an eternity


When my husband and I were preparing to marry 33 years ago, it was with some trepidation that we had our first meeting with the parish priest Monsignor Tom Horgan.

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We were living in Victor Harbor, where I worked for the Victor Harbor Times and my husband ran an irrigation business.

Life was busy, Mass attendance was irregular and Tony wasn’t Catholic, in fact he wasn’t even christened.

I needn’t have worried. The first question the affable Mgr Horgan asked was ‘which football team do you play for – Encounter Bay or Victor Harbor?’

The next half an hour was taken up with a robust discussion on the perils of playing centre half forward for the Bays and the team’s performance that season. I tried to interrupt occasionally with a question about what sort of music we wanted for the Mass but Mgr Horgan quickly got the conversation back on track – to footy or cricket.

By our second visit he and Tony were best mates and I was a mere bystander, except when it came to filling out a few forms. When we finally got around to the matter of Tony not being Catholic, or Protestant for that matter, Mgr Horgan simply asked if he was willing for our children to be raised in the Catholic faith.

Tony had no hesitation in agreeing to this and spoke enthusiastically of his support for my faith which gave him even more brownie points.

When I look back now at our few meetings with the priest, I realise that while we might have not had the type of marriage preparation course that the professionals provide it was an opportunity for us to form a friendship with the person who was going to marry us and to think about the future that lay ahead.

The memories of those chats with Mgr Horgan will stay with me forever and while I have never had reason to think we wouldn’t raise our children Catholic, I am grateful that Tony had the chance to put into words his support for me and my faith.

Our wedding in St Joan of Arc Church (which happens to feature in The Southern Cross this month) was a simple but beautiful occasion and whenever we return there I think about how happy I was walking down the aisle surrounded by family and friends.

Sadly Mgr Horgan and some of our family members are no longer with us, but we have three amazing children, lots of nieces, nephews and even great nieces with us now.

When you look at it like that, marriage really is a pretty special bond between two people that touches the lives of so many and has a lasting impact. This is clearly evident at the Anniversaries Mass held each year in our archdiocese to honour couples at different stages of their relationship.

When Tony and I celebrate our 33rd anniversary this month, we will no doubt reminisce about where we met, how Tony popped the question (he wrote it in Texta on his t-shirt actually – how romantic) and who had the worst hairstyle at the wedding.

We’ll also spare a thought for Mgr Horgan who would have had so many chats with couples like us and wondered how it might all end up!


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