The Story of a Modern Catholic Couple
Jason and Bonnie Fazio met at Notre Dame High School and kept their relationship strong throughout college. This year, they celebrated two years of marriage. Through their faith in God, the Fazios’ love has grown and sustained them since their wedding day.
Jason, 24, and Bonnie, 25, dated for eight years before their wedding at St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church in Utica on May 12, 2000. The story of their relationship began at Notre Dame, where the roots of their faith were nutured. Both attended weekend Mass and were active in school and their parishes.
Neither Jason nor Bonnie had planned on attending World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. Jason explained that his brother approached him with a question the night before, asking him if he wanted to go to Denver. He accepted the invitation and both he and his girlfriend Bonnie Carvelli went to see the pope for World Youth Day with others from the diocese.
In 2002, the Fazios attended World Youth Day again with the diocesan group from Syracuse. Their experience this year was much different from that in 1993.
“Toronto was more meaningful for me because I’m older and wiser. I appreciate the pope and his message,” Jason said. “I now realize all that he has done for the church.”
Bonnie said the experience was a special time in their marriage.
“Going to World Youth Day in Toronto was amazing,” Bonnie said. “While we were there, we went to adoration in the Skydome and received the sacrament of reconciliation at 11:45 p.m.! We were also able to say the rosary with our group and with people from other countries, including Australia. By going as a married couple, we will be able to share the spectacular experience for years to come.”
Bonnie explained that the pope’s message was particularly important.
“The Holy Father spoke on so many issues that affect young people and married couples, including ‘avoiding pleasures of the senses.’ He also emphasized the importance of life of the unborn. If we as a nation forget about God and the rights of life, we will destroy ourselves,” she said. “It was a relief to see so many people with a common faith, because sometimes at home or in the workplace, one feels alone.”
Jason said before he met Bonnie, he knew he had a faith life, but it needed some work. After attending college at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, he had a greater appreciation for his own faith.
“She knew more about the church. I knew the church meant something, but she has taught me a few things,” Jason said. “In college, I needed to learn something on my own. I learned what the church means in my own life. Going to Steubenville was very meaningful. The teachings of the church help you to stay focused on the important thing. Even if you are having a tough time, you know you will get through. Without faith, you will not be able to survive.” Instead of attending pre-martial counseling in a large group setting, Jason and Bonnie chose a different route.
“We had private sessions with a priest in place of Pre-Cana classes. By going to a private session with a priest, it was directed toward us and our situation. I highly recommend this to engaged couples.”
Jason said the private pre-martial sessions helped illuminate some important parts of their relationship.
“We realized that one of the attractive things about each other is our faith,” Jason said. “People are going the wrong way if their relationship is based on looks and appearance.”
The teachings of the church are a cornerstone to a strong marriage, Bonnie said.
“The teachings of the Catholic Church have been vital to our marriage. It helps us realize that marriage is a lifetime commitment, unlike the way it is portrayed in today’s society. We realize marriage is a sacrament; it is an agreement with God, not just each other.”
The Fazios enjoy being members of St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church. They both attend weekend Mass and Perpetual Adoration. Bonnie is a substitute religious education teacher and Jason is still working with Father Richard Dellos, pastor of St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church, on ministries he can participate in. Jason explained there are many challenges in a church with few young couples. However, he feels both of them will find their place. Jason said he enjoys the traditional worship environment of St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church, which is warm and welcoming.
“The atmosphere is much more prayerful. There are so many beautiful statues, and the tabernacle is right in front of you when you face the front,” Jason said. The Fazios know a number of Catholic couples that are married or getting married. Jason said that religion often is discussed.
“Faith is always a topic,” he said. “The church is what keeps all of us going. You have to live it, breathe it. Even if you have a job, you need to do it for God. Christ is always before us, behind us, above us and below us.”
Bonnie and Jason take time each day to pray, either together or alone. They enjoy praying the rosary. Jason said the Blessed Mother is important to one’s Catholic identity.
“Mary intercedes for us in so many ways. We don’t realize how much she helps us through her Son,” Jason said.
After two years of marriage, the Fazios have learned from each other. They look forward to each new day as husband and wife. Bonnie said those preparing for marriage should understand the covenant they are entering with their husband and God.
“Couples need to accept the fact that marriage is a life-long commitment. Too many couples get married with the idea that as soon as they are not happy, they can get a divorce. By having this attitude, your marriage will not flourish. You need to be willing to sacrifice for one another and not to be selfish. Both of you have to be willing to compromise,” Bonnie said. “I also think it is important to do things together. Time with friends is important. However, it should not take precedence over time with your spouse.”
God should be the focus of marriage, she said.
“Above everything else, you must pray together and receive the sacraments, especially reconciliation, frequently. Remember, marriage involves three: God, your spouse and you.”
Jason said he has loved every moment of his marriage to Bonnie.
“She’s a part of me. We are each other’s life,” he said. “We are like a pair of figure skaters, where everything is in perfect rhythm. We are grateful for every day we have with one another.”