by Marc and Julie Anderson
MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. — Six jars of water.
That’s all they were.
But Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana at the request of his mother, transformed those same six jars of water into six jars of wine — wine so good it prompted the head waiter to comment on its quality.
In their new book “Six Jars of Love: Loving Attitudes to Help Married Couples Reconnect,” John and Teri Bosio share their hope that the same power of Christ that changed water into wine can transform the marriages of struggling couples.
The book reflects nearly 47 years’ worth of wisdom gleaned by the couple as they have ministered to thousands of Catholic couples and families.
Married at Church of the Holy Cross in Overland Park in 1972 by Father Robert Burger, the couple became good friends with their pastor. But it was a friendship with another priest that led them to parish ministry in the first place.
While an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, John volunteered within the archdiocese for three summers in the late ’60s and met several archdiocesan priests, including Father John Stitz.
When it came time to look for work, John called Father Stitz and asked him if he knew of any job opportunities. That’s when he learned about the coordinator of religious education position at Church of the Holy Cross.
When John interviewed for the job, he asked Father Burger for more specifics.
“I asked him,” John said, “‘What’s the job?’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know. We’ll figure it out together.’”
And that’s how it went.
Not only was the job new, the parish was brand-new, too. In fact, it was so new that Mass was celebrated in a theater. Yet, the job did come with one unexpected benefit. John was invited to eat lunch every day with Father Burger and his mother. While employed there, he later met Teri.
“So, we have a lot of emotional ties to the parish there and the people of Kansas City,” John said.
While serving in his new position, John also took evening classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, working toward a degree in marriage and family therapy.
In 1978, the late Archbishop Ignatius Strecker invited John and Teri to serve as coordinators of marriage and family life for the archdiocese. So, until 1982, John and Terri developed marriage preparation programs, worked with the divorced and separated, designed marriage enrichment activities, and even wrote a marriage and family life pastoral plan for the archdiocese.
While John and Teri were ministering to families and couples in the archdiocese, they were being ministered to themselves by several older married couples at their parish who, shortly after their wedding, invited them to join their small group.
“We were a young married couple. We were new at marriage,” Teri said. “They invited us into their lives and their marriages. We were exposed to family life in different homes.
“They were definitely mentors for us.”
In fact, they still maintain those friendships decades later, even though the Bosios moved from the area in 1988.
“If those things had not happened at the beginning [of our marriage], we could not have been doing what we’re doing today,” John said.
After the couple stepped down from their archdiocesan role, John served as a counselor, working with couples at three different parishes, including Curé of Ars in Leawood, Holy Cross and Holy Spirit, Overland Park.
In the 1990s, after moving away from Kansas City and into corporate work for more than a decade, John started thinking about his varied career.
“I started thinking I need to put into writing my thoughts and try to marry my knowledge of theology and my experience in working with couples in counseling in a variety of ways,” he said. “It took me 10 years to put down my thoughts.”
The couple’s first book, “Happy Together: The Catholic Blueprint for a Loving Marriage,” was published in 2008. They never considered doing anything more relative to marriage ministry until he received an unexpected message from the president of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in his inbox.
“She suggested a date night program,” said John. “When I got home, I talked to Teri and we decided we didn’t know what a date night program is.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was done, and I decided that we would just pass on that.”
A month or two later, the Bosios received a similar note from another individual. That’s when they mentioned it to friends at their Nashville, Tennessee, parish, who eagerly offered to help with the project.
In the end, around 20 couples were interviewed on camera in their homes as part of “Six Dates for Catholic Couples,” a series of six videos with accompanying written materials.
Turns out, that video series was only the beginning of the couple’s rapidly expanding ministry.
Since John’s retirement in 2010, the couple has developed a Catholic marriage preparation published by Ave Maria Press, written other books, including “Blessed is Marriage: A Guide to the Beatitudes for Catholic Couples,” and developed videos to accompany many of their written materials. They have also been sought out as facilitators for retreats across the country, including one to be held here in the archdiocese. (See sidebar above).
Today, John and Teri said they could not imagine being engaged in any ministry other than that of marriage and family life.
“It’s a motivation that has been there from the beginning to do something for couples,” John said.
“It also helps us in our relationship,” he added, “because you cannot be saying one thing and doing something else.”