Marriage: Austin couple renew their vows at St. Peter’s Basilica
By Omega Duke
My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on Dec. 3, 2015. To celebrate, we planned a multi-city tour of Italy, but we also wanted to renew our vows. Since we were going to stop in Rome, we researched what it would take to have our vows renewed at the Vatican. We discovered it is possible; however, it would require knowing a priest in Rome to celebrate the Mass. From there, we started a search for this person we would later meet in Rome and change our life.
We are parishioners at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, so to start, we made an appointment with Father Albert Laforet, our pastor. He was excited to help, but he personally did not know of any priest that would be in Rome during our trip. He said if we decided on France, he knew plenty of priests. Seeing the disheartened looks on our faces, he mentioned a long shot, contacting the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where the Austin Diocese has seminarians to be priests.
One of the seminarians was Deacon Sean DeWitt from Dripping Springs, which is near my husband’s place of work. My husband sent Deacon Sean an e-mail and then a few days I followed up with a call to North American College and asked for Deacon Sean DeWitt. In 30 seconds, I was speaking with him. He mentioned he did receive the e-mail and was researching the possibility. Within a week and amongst his busy schedule of classes and other responsibilities, he was able to reserve a private chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica and his friend Father David Angelino was available to celebrate the Mass.
When we arrived in Rome, Deacon Sean took time out of his busy schedule to give us a private tour of the college. From the top of the building, we could see all of Rome. It was a beautiful site seeing experience. We then attended afternoon prayer and witnessed more than 300 seminarians singing in perfect harmony. Deacon Sean has a beautiful voice! Afterward, Deacon Sean and Father Angelino joined us for dinner at a local favorite restaurant.
Our Mass was the next day at 7 a.m., so they met us at our hotel and together we walked to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass was special not only because it was at the Vatican, but also because Father Angelino and Deacon Sean were able to reserve the chapel closest to St. Peter’s tomb. It was a very humbling and spiritual experience. Deacon Sean gave us wise advice and we could feel the movement of the Holy Spirit. As we were leaving the chapel, an American couple celebrating their 25th anniversary was coming in. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of how we will celebrate our marriage in 15 years.
My husband and I want to thank Deacon Sean for his time and his efforts to help us renew our vows. He is a man of God with determined and firm faith. He is extremely wise for his age and his love for others clearly shows in all that he does. We witnessed first-hand his love for the church and its people. Weeks after our visit, we continue to feel his prayers for us and our marriage. We are truly blessed to have met him. He will remain in our prayers as he prepares for his priestly ordination this summer and always.