NEWLYWEDS Alice and Chris Williams didn’t opt for the quiet or peaceful resort getaway for their honeymoon.
Instead, the Gold Coast couple were compelled to share their first few weeks as husband and wife with millions of Catholics.
The couple registered as pilgrims for the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow, travelling with the Brisbane Archdiocese, during their engagement.
“Well we wanted to start our married life prayerfully and it made sense to begin with a pilgrimage – we’re going to pilgrimage in life, I guess,” Chris said.
In 2013, Alice travelled to the WYD in Rio de Janeiro, asking God for direction in her life.
“I was working on the Gold Coast and living in Brisbane, I would drive everyday, and I really felt called by God to be where I was, embrace the Gold Coast, so I moved there after last WYD,” Alice said.
“I really felt inspired by St Mary MacKillop’s quote, ‘There where you are you will find God’.”
Alice reached out to the local youth minister at the Surfers Paradise Catholic Parish for an opportunity to connect with young adults.
It was at the parish’s youth group she met Chris.
“We don’t remember the first time we saw each other, we don’t remember meeting, but … our faiths both led us to that youth group,” Alice said.
The pair were married by Chris’ uncle, Bishop-elect Anthony Randazzo, on July 2 at the Church where they met.
Since leaving Australia one week after their wedding, the couple have spent their married life praying at various pilgrimage sites in Poland, including Maximilian Kolbe’s cell at Auschwitz, visiting the Jasna Gora monastery, spending time with Catholic is Polish town Zdzieszowice, and walking with huge crowds through the streets of Krakow.
“It’s been really good because it’s given us time away not just alone but among other Christian which is like life anyway – growing together and as a group of Christians,” Alice said.
The couple also realised early on that being married and on pilgrimage has its limitations.
“Like, we’ve been in separate beds everywhere because we were in pilgrim houses,” Alice said.
“It’s been good too because we have learnt a bit more, that being together in our room is important but that’s not what marriage is.
“Marriage isn’t just getting to stay in the same bed, marriage is your whole life and your pilgrimage of life together.
“It’s been good to be reminded of that early, it’s not just hanging out with rose petals.”
The pilgrimage has emphasised of making God and their Catholic faith the central focus of their marriage.
After hearing a talk by Scott and Annie Powell on marriage at a WYD Catechesis session on July 29, Alice and Chris are now praying about how their vocation will fit into God’s “bigger picture”.
“Yesterday the married couple talked about when you’re trying to find a partner, you both run towards Jesus, you run towards Jesus yourself and you look to your right and see who is running with you,” Alice said.
“And we both were talking about that last night – our faith led us to where we were, going to a youth group and ministering to young people, and putting that as a priority in our lives and that’s how we found one another and that’s how we’ll continue to find all the other things God wants us to do, is continually following Christ.”
While the couple have talked about having children and buying their first home, WYD has offered a new perspective on the life of a married couple.
“We have just been thinking about having babies, settling down, having a nice little home but instead (since the talk), (it’s about) where’s our vocation taking us now?
“What does God want from us?”
“And trying to let go and work through what we’re going to be doing,” Chris said.
By Emilie Ng