Our Vocation to Marriage – Reflections from World Youth Day

by Stephen Janssen and Kara Gregg    

When we met in May of 2015, I (Kara) was reading “Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves” by Jason Evert. A book about the life and loves of St. JPII. I (Stephen) soon read the same book and it changed my life and my entire belief on the human body, love, and marriage as a Catholic man and future husband. Throughout our relationship, JPII and our blessed Mother have been strong intercessors for us.

I (Kara) had spent several years before I met Stephen praying for my future husband.  During the time in the summer of 2015, shortly after meeting Stephen, I received a special gift on the last day of a 54 day rosary novena I decided to pray for the intention of my future husband. On my trip to Rome with my cousin, we were invited to attend a private mass, in which after the priest placed a zucchetto (a cleric’s skullcap: black for a priest, purple for a bishop, red for a cardinal, and white for the pope) of JPII on my head and before he did I asked that he would also pray for my future husband. JP2 has been so tenderly involved in our relationship!

During our pilgrimage to World Youth Day we ended a 54 day rosary novena for the intention for a happy and holy marriage. On that day, we visited the shrine of JPII in Kraków and kissed a relic of his blood that was saved on May 13, 1981, the day there was an assassination attempt on his life and the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. What a blessing! We knew Our Lady of Fatima was so special to us and we to her. She has guided us and given us so many graces throughout our relationship. Through the sufferings we have endured and offered for each other and for our future marriage, JPII and Our Lady have interceded for us and given us the grace to receive the fullness of this life with each other.12

I (Stephen) knew I was called to propose on WYD, but didn’t know when or where. I was shown shortly after arriving. A short walk from where we were staying was a church built by JPII as a devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. There is a statue of JPII with his arms outstretched as if he was to embrace us. This is where I proposed. At the foot of the statue in the front of that church devoted by JPII to Our Lady. And it was there that Kara gave me her “yes”. We have a priest friend,  Fr. Martin Rodriguez Rodriguez who accompanied us on the trip, waiting to give a blessing. We have been and are preparing to selflessly give our lives to each other. And on May 13, 2017, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, we will rejoice in that sacrament with each other, with Jesus, and with our Blessed Mother.123

We are so humbled and honored to be asked to share a small portion of our lives. Like Father Eric Augenstein said to us on the trip, “You get to be a gift to each other and a gift to the world.” 

God has shown us His faithfulness and always reminds us of the verse,

“Take delight in the Lord and He will grant you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4.

God bless, Stephen and Kara


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