By Kevin and Annette Downes
As we celebrate the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the Catholic role models for married couples, Annette and I reflect on our 20 ½ years of marriage and the tremendous grace and blessings that the Lord has brought to our lives.
Each day is indeed special as we continue to journey, learn, and discover each other on our way to becoming the best versions of ourselves, through Christ our Lord.
Through our marriage, the Lord has blessed us with two wonderful children, and just as Mary was entrusted to Anne and Joachim, we are not just responsible for ourselves, but to obediently respond to what the Lord is calling us to do as parents, how we live as a married couple, what examples are we setting for our children, what virtues we are instilling in them and as a family how we keep God at the centre of everything we do.
This has by no means been an easy task, as with all marriages we have our fair share of challenges. Beginning with whether or not it was God’s will for us to be married, given that we were coming from different religious, racial, and cultural backgrounds. I am of African descent and an active Roman Catholic and Annette, East Indian from a strong Hindu background.
Having sought the Lord’s guidance and wisdom, we were convinced that we were brought together for His purpose. We remember going to Mount St Benedict to pray and getting the opportunity to speak to the Abbot who provided some really inspired advice. Looking back now, we believe we were obedient to what the Lord was telling us.
During our marriage, Annette and I believe there were many miracles that indicated that we were on the right path to loving as God does, particularly with the birth of our children. This new life also contributed to a huge turnaround in the mindset of Annette’s family. The acceptance and love shared now is nothing one can imagine.
As the children grew up in the Catholic Church, Annette was able to participate in the full celebration of the Eucharist when she completed the RCIA programme after seven years into our marriage, which was only possible through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This was also a turning point in the deeper spiritual journey for our family.
To assist in the children’s development, they attended St Xavier’s Primary School, and became active in church life as altar servers and as lector at Santa Rosa RC Church, while Annette and I became Eucharistic Ministers, lector, Mass host and facilitators of the Marriage Preparation programme for Santa Rosa, as well as active members of the People of Praise prayer community.
From our involvement in the marriage preparation programme, the Bible begins in Genesis with the marriage of God with creation and ends with Revelations as heaven being the eternal marriage. This re-emphasises the special place that God has for the Sacrament of Marriage.
Having common goals and learning to work together to form a partnership that allows us to support each other, while learning and respecting each other’s love styles. We work through challenges cooperatively knowing the effects of the influence of family of origin and how we determine our priorities and manage our finances, time, and energy.
One of the most valuable aspects of our discovery, is the importance of sexuality and prayer as two powerful ways married couples achieve the intimacy with one another and with God.
As we continue this journey, we hope, through God’s grace to be a source of encouragement and witness to the joy and fun marriage has brought to us and learn how to keep God’s love that is free, total, faithful and fruitful as the foundation of our marriage in a practical way.
Kevin & Annette Downes have been married for 20 years. They have two children, Danielle, and Adrian. They are active members of the Santa Rosa Parish, Arima through the Extra-ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, Santa Rosa Marriage Preparation ministry and People of Praise Community.