A TRIUNE God gifted two Brisbane couples with thrice the joy on their first wedding anniversaries.
The Catholic Leader traced the journey to marriage of friends Niamh and Peter McAuliffe, and Pia and Arnie Hurdoyal – the former duo wedded in Islandeady, Ireland, last July and the Hurdoyals in Nowra, New South Wales, soon after.
Biblical names were at the forefront of the young marrieds’ minds as expectant due dates hastened.
“Tobias, meaning ‘the goodness of God’, was the son of Tobit,” Niamh said, admiring their June 6 arrival.
“He was a very faithful, honest and obedient son whose heart was filled with goodness, justice and integrity … (and lived) a life pleasing to God.”
“This story played a significant role in our journey towards marriage,” Peter said.
“We then used it as our wedding reading and knew that one day if we had a son, his name would be Tobias.
“We know there’s a lot for our little Tobias to learn from the Tobias that went before him.”
An answered pregnancy prayer novena to St Joseph, the patron of fathers, for a safe and uncomplicated birth meant Tobias Martin was baptised at three weeks of age.
Motherhood had allowed a healthy and “real” dose of oxytocin, Niamh said.
“I have this indescribable protective love that is bursting from within,” she said.
“This holds with it a challenge as I know that I won’t be able to protect Tobias from everything.
“I have to trust God with his life and hand him and my worries over each day.”
A challenge came in the form of Tobias requiring surgery for two webbed fingers, and Niamh, a Catholic primary school teacher, penned a poetic response.
“… As you look and notice that scar on your left hand, remember your Saviour who walked before you,” she wrote in the original work, Unscarred Hands.
Peter said becoming a dad had filled his “heart with joy”, and Tobias’ “tummy time” was a favourite.
The new father’s also enjoying having a “front-row seat” in Niamh’s evolving motherhood and has “found strength in God, His love, and the brotherhood of other fathers and friends”.
The couple agreed that parenting had allowed the tangible discovery of God’s plan for their marriage and they remain grateful for family, friends and their faith community.
“Every day’s another learning experience,” Niamh said.
“Through his very nature, Tobias is teaching us love, sacrifice and patience … (and how) to appreciate the small things.”
The constant offering of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet is part of the family’s prayer routine while the new parents are proud to report an increase of sleep for all, a form of continued answered prayer.
It was a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane and “crucifixes on the walls” that brought Pia greater peace throughout the imminent birth of Micah Joseph on June 14.
Her mother offered the biblical name suggestion and “it stuck”, while Joseph is significant on both sides of the family.
Pia said motherhood had helped “deepen faith” and offered a sense of “accomplishment”.
“I had a moment when some middle-aged ladies came up to me and asked to look at Micah,” she said.
“I felt so accomplished when they said they could see so much love for him in my face.
“I’m a witness to love and life in a new way.”
The young woman of faith, who ministered on National Evangelisation Teams (NET) with Niamh in 2014, related a “deeper connection” to God and her husband through their son.
“There’s more depth in understanding God as Father, now I’m a parent myself,” she said.
“I often find myself watching Micah with such love and affection, even when he’s crying.
“I’m relating that back to God’s love for me.”
Arnie said he was “in awe” of their son and he had “a new appreciation of the Father’s love” in his fatherhood.
“Being a dad has made the Father’s love for us, so real for me,” he said.
“Having to care for a totally dependent little human has brought out the best and worst in me but it’s really just sanctifying me more than I could imagine.
“I already love the responsibility and can’t wait to teach him how to kick a soccer ball.”
Pia and Arnie said they appreciated and gave time to each other in new ways, describing their loving as more “intentional”.
“Life feels like a constant game of tag with Micah,” Pia said.
“(But) it does bring us closer and makes us more intentional in reaching out to the other, even just for a second’s embrace – which can make the world of difference.
“(And) we laugh, especially when there’s been a poo explosion.”
Motherhood has also brought the realisation of the importance of support.
“I need to lean on Arnie, God, friends and family,” Pia said, adding, “I can’t do it alone.
“It’s the little things like going for a walk to care for my mental health, showering, feeding and changing Micah all day that are my greatest wins and my new definition of success,” she said.
“(And) we feel so blessed to have a such a beautiful community of friends and around us who are so generous and often reach out to us.
“It’s so beautiful to be loved and served in the tiredness and mess that having a newborn can often be.”
With Micah’s reception of the Sacrament of Baptism only weeks away, Pia and Arnie hope their son “lives life to the fullest”.
“We hope Micah brings joy to those around him and perseveres when things get tough, knowing he’s more than his failures,” Arnie said.
Like the Hurdoyals, Niamh and Peter said they continued to trust in God’s plan for their blossoming family.
“We hope and pray that Tobias grows up with a love for God and a heart filled with kindness, justice, integrity, empathy and peace,” Peter said.
“We hope he’s healthy and hardworking, and that he brings a smile to those around him.”
Each evolving parent well understands that the examples of countless holy men and women go before them, and their three-fold joy can only increase.