THERE’S divine symmetry between Gary and Natasha Pinto.
His name is synonymous with Australian Idol winner and Christian musician Guy Sebastian, together producing the World Youth Day 2008 theme song Receive the Power, and “a few hundred” songs under his musical belt over two decades.
Her name as a musician and singer stands tall in its own right with a third album to be released next year.
And yet, their symmetry has less to do with a shared passion for music and more their devotion to God, as individuals and as a married couple.
“I’m a Catholic from birth,” Natasha, who was born in Perth, said, between sessions as a singer and speaker at the Ignite Conference at Rothwell, north of Brisbane, on September 30.
“I went every week to Mass with my mum and sister.”
Natasha’s mother is Dutch Portuguese and her father Sri Lankan, perhaps explaining her exotic features.
It was “Natasha’s beautiful face” in an email that first captured Gary’s attention.
Before those fate-filled keystrokes, rewind to Sydney’s World Youth Day in 2008.
Gary was backstage, rubbing shoulders with various performers, clergy and religious.
Praying about his future vocation, Gary, who was baptised as Garfield after the West Indian cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers, was direct with God.
“Backstage I said, ‘Lord, five-hundred thousand Catholics are here, if I’m to marry, I know my wife is one of them’,” he said.
“I said, ‘Lord, You said ask and you shall receive. I thank You Lord that she is here’.”
Natasha, a teacher, was with a high school pilgrimage group among the hundreds of thousands.
While they didn’t cross paths during that extraordinary week in the life of countless young Catholics, she returned home to Perth and began teaching Guy and Gary’s WYD08 theme song to her students.
Her email to Gary was a few months later, Natasha saying, “I told him I’d been teaching the song … (and) that his parents knew my parents and they’d always wanted us to do music together.”
Both Gary and Natasha are gifted with musically-minded parents and relatives.
The two were friends for another year, keeping in touch from Perth to Gary’s Melbourne base.
With a strong intent to follow the will of God, Gary said he began a 40-day novena to St Joseph.
“I prayed the novena after months of being friends with Natasha,” he said. “I said, ‘Lord, open the right doors, close the wrong doors’.
“As soon as the 40-day novena was over, I went to Perth to meet Natasha.”
Interestingly, the songstress said she “had a gig” when he’d arrived and told Gary she was unable to meet.
But God took care of the details, with their respective bands, performing at the same event, Natasha saying, “I literally handed the microphone to Gary’s band, to do the next set”.
A friend prompted the talented man of faith to not lose sight of what God was so obviously mapping out, helping him overcome doubt about “long-distance relationships”, Gary saying, “God performs miracles in my life because I don’t realise blessings until He knocks me over the head with it”.
The couple agreed to make the most of the miles between them, Gary adding, “I said to God, if You want this to happen, accelerate the relationship”.
“I said, ‘If you don’t want this to happen, close the door’.”
God again intervened and made His will known.
Within nine days, Gary had secured work with Australian Idol, coaching contestants, and the show offered Natasha work as a back-up singer in what he said was “answered prayer”.
The duo’s harmony was evident despite the fact Natasha “never intended on having a boyfriend or even getting married”.
Taking a brief break in Malaysia about five months later, Natasha said they were at Mass and Gary “was unusually sweating”.
“He had a box shape in his pocket,” she said.
“Gary said, ‘Let’s go out and pray at the grotto’.
“I followed him and we were both kneeling. Then he stood up and proposed.”
The Pintos married at St Ignatius’ Church, Richmond, Victoria, in March 2010.
Guy Sebastian was a groomsman and he “sang Natasha down the aisle” to Stevie Wonder’s Ribbon in the Sky.
Gary’s parents, originating from India, and an aunt, led the worship of the Nuptial Mass.
Also part of Gary’s novena before meeting Natasha was a prayer to live in close proximity to a Catholic church so they could attend daily Mass.
“God gave us the quietest, most beautiful pocket where I can walk to the church,” Gary said of that request.
“I didn’t realise my prayers would be over-abundantly answered.
“Natasha has the most pure heart for God.
“(And) everything I was looking for – in a wife, in security in my job and a house for my family – has been exceeded.
“The 40-day novena was at the heart of that.”
About a decade older than his 32-year-old wife, the energetic duo are expecting their first child just before Christmas and Gary is once again besotted.
“It’s amazing to be a dad, such a gift every day,” he said. “Natasha says, ‘Baby’s kicking’ and I’ll feel the little one and we pray for the child every time and when we’re at Mass, we’re saying, ‘Peace be with you’.
“It’s an incredible gift.”
All going to plan, the Pintos’ cherished addition will be baptised in their home parish of St Philip’s, Blackburn, eastern Melbourne.
They’re looking forward to a break from various musical commitments, “never in the same parish for Sunday Mass two weeks running”, with nine months of each year traditionally set aside for touring.
“Settling down” with a baby may even allow “permanent ministry in a parish”, they agreed.
The Pintos tour for faith-based initiatives, Gary playing a key role in the Ignite Conference opening night, on a panel of guests, together leading workshops about music ministry and Natasha singing at the conference’s closing Mass.
As part of the panel, Gary shared about a darker time of his life, suffering at the hands of depression.
He spoke of a treasured devotion to the Divine Mercy and the image of blood and water flowing from Jesus Christ, as depicted from St Maria Faustina Kowalska’s reflections.
“When I offered myself, under the blood of Jesus, to the Divine Mercy of Jesus, the power that swept over me was freedom,” Gary said.
“God broke through the chains of depression and a very dark time.
“The power of the image of the Divine Mercy is real.
“God, through my prayer, through that icon, answered my release.”
The Pintos offer the Divine Mercy Chaplet each day at the traditional time of 3pm.
Within such personal devotion, they were buoyed by the faith-filled enthusiasm of young people at the Brisbane conference.
“The youthful love for God, that we witnessed, was beautiful,” Gary said.
“The innocence in loving God is more than inspiring.
“Those young people are prophets to the nations. When they go home, their light will shine, they will affect so much change in others’ lives.”
With their baby’s arrival, a new album for Natasha of affirming life themes, upcoming tours and continued production and vocal work for Gary, the Pintos’ symmetry is a constant.
“God is everything,” Gary said.
“(And) because of God’s love, I have Natasha.
“Our prayer is, ‘God, increase our love for You and each other’.”