by Jill Ragar Esfeld
Last Saturday, I did something I’ve never done before. I overdosed on joy.
It was a beautiful September day full of sunshine; and I was privileged to attend two amazing celebrations of commitment and love, one right after the other.
Both involved beautiful young women answering God’s call: One was taking vows of consecration, the other vows of marriage. And I was touched by the similarities between the two.
Father Vince Huber, AVI, was a concelebrant at both liturgies.
At a reception that evening I said to him, “I’ve spent more time with you today than I’ve spent with my husband.”
It was true. My husband wasn’t at the first service because I attended it alone as a reporter for The Leaven.
Though I was busy taking notes and photographs, I couldn’t help but be swept up in the sacred bliss that filled St. Agnes Church in Roland Park as Karen Bonkiewicz took her vows with the Lay Consecrated Branch of the Apostles of the Interior Life (AVI).
She became the spouse of Christ, and her joy was palpable.
Later, I interviewed Karen and was surprised to hear her describe herself as an introvert; a contemplative spirit. That day she seemed the opposite — a radiant, jubilant and outgoing young woman eager to embrace the world.
She agreed that her personality was changed when she accepted Christ as her spouse, saying her happiness was so extreme she couldn’t hold it in.
In demeanor, she was everything one would expect a happy bride to be.
After Karen’s service, members of the AVI Lay Movement — lay Catholics who live the AVI charism of prayer and evangelization — stood on the altar steps to take pictures with Karen.
But two members were missing.
Gordon Moffitt, one of the first graduates of the AVI Spiritual Mentorship Program and his wife Cookie couldn’t attend Karen’s celebration because they were getting ready for the marriage of their son Tom to Dayan Lopez.
The Moffits are dear friends and so I was attending that service, too.
I raced home from Karen’s celebration at St. Agnes, dropped off my camera, changed my clothes, grabbed my husband, and headed to the Moffitt wedding at Holy Trinity in Lenexa.
Father Vince beat me there, but only because he didn’t have to curl his hair or reapply his makeup.
The wedding liturgy was beautiful and Holy Trinity Church, like St. Agnes a few hours before, was filled with bliss as Tom and Dayan exchanged vows.
Again, I saw a young woman eager to join her spouse in a lifelong commitment of love.
Again, I saw a mother and father, with tears and smiles, relinquishing their child to a new vocation of witnessing God’s love in the world.
And, again, I saw a bride radiant with joy.
I’m so grateful to both families for allowing me to be part of their journeys with Christ.
And I will forever remember that day as one overflowing with happiness.