We (Tony and Betty) were married in 1986, both having been widowed. Prior to this, I (Tony) was married for nineteen years to my first wife who died of cancer at the age of 44 years in 1975. I was left to bring up my three sons and hold down my career in mapping. I was widowed for ten years before marrying Betty. Towards the latter part of this period I was made redundant from the firm to which I had given service for 27 years!
I, (Betty), was also married for nineteen years with three children when my first husband died at 46 from cancer. Our combined family is now comprised of six children and thirteen grandchildren. I was trained, and for many years practised, in marriage counselling with the Catholic Marriage Advisory Service (now Marriage Care). Also, for a number of years I counselled for a local doctor’s group practice in Reading. For a year or two before marrying Tony, I was the coordinator of the Reading Victim Support scheme.
After we got married we moved to Porthmadog where we bought and ran a small hotel for four years or so before feeling called to use it as a centre for our marriage ministry. At this time we equipped ourselves by practically experiencing what was available for married couples to help their relationships. We attended courses and lectures and gained qualifications in Christian counselling and Spiritual direction. This included courses at the Catholic Bible School (Counselling for Carers), and Cruse Bereavement Care (Bereavement counselling), the Institute of Counselling (Marriage and Family Counselling, Crisis Counselling and Pre-marital Counselling), and Pecos Benedictine Monastery, New Mexico, USA (Spiritual Direction). We actually made our Perpetual Oblation as oblates of Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Abbey, Pecos, New Mexico, USA some four years after taking this course.
We served on the Wrexham Diocesan Marriage and Family Life Commission, and have both been commissioned as lay Leaders of Prayer for the “Celebration of Word and Communion” in the same diocese. We were also both involved in our local parish at Porthmadog as Eucharistic Ministers and Readers and serve on various church committees. We also offer marriage preparation courses to our local deanery.
In this marriage ministry we found it essential to keep informed on current issues and we looked continuously to our own ongoing spiritual formation. This kept us fresh and enthused to serve those who came for help. Betty qualified in the Maryvale Institute certificate course “Adult Studies in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;” and we have both attended the Acorn Christian Foundation’s “Importance of Listening” course.
Since closure of the Centre and our move to Norfolk, in May 2005, we have been able to revitalise our Benedictine spirituality by joining the “Mother Julian Chapter” of the North Norfolk Oblates of Douai Abbey.
In May 2008 we both completed the Inner Healing (Healing of Memories) course at Clare Priory, with Fr. Laurence Brassil O.S.A. and Pauline Edwards.
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