Diocese of Parramatta

Aussie couple tell of their joys and fears about marriage while almost speechless in front of the Pope

Camillus O'Kane and his fiancee Kelly Walsh speaking to Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families 2015

Camillus O’Kane and his fiancee Kelly Walsh speaking to Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families 2015

AUSTRALIAN couple Camillus O’Kane and Kelly Walsh were almost speechless when they spoke to Pope Francis — but when the words came out they had a powerful message.

Mr O’Kane, 29, of Yarrawonga in Victoria, and Ms Walsh, 33, of Grong Grong in NSW, were lucky enough to be invited to meet the Holy Father in Philadelphia on his tour of the US recently.

At the World Meeting of Families, a Vatican-sponsored conference and festival for more than 18,000 people from around the world, the Pope listened to stories from six families from the US, Australia, Ukraine, Jordan, Nigeria, and his homeland of Argentina.

Ms Kelly said they were asked to represent the Oceanic region as an engaged couple, and talk to the Pope about their joys, their hopes and fears about marriage and divorce.

The couple told News Corp Australia that the opportunity was one of the best experiences of their lives.

“It felt like winning the Tattslotto. We just couldn’t believe we were chosen,” Mr O’Kane said.

The couple had a three-minute message to give which they had written, rewritten and rehearsed many times before meeting the Pontiff.

But when it came to seeing him face to face, Mr O’Kane was almost speechless, and admittedly “went blank”.

“We practised it a lot, we attempted to memorise it. I hope it didn’t come across too blank …

it was a very inspiring moment for us. We were the first people to speak,” Mr O’Kane said.

“We divided it up into four sections. We were going to rotate between each part but when I went blank I couldn’t remember the next part.”

As they both knew what they wanted to say, Ms Walsh jumped in to help her fiance finish their speech as the crowd cheered them on.

“Like any couple though, we have some fears about getting married,” she said.

“In our country there is a high rate of divorce. Furthermore, we are concerned about the increased push to change the legal definition of marriage; and what that would mean for us, our children and our societies.”

Looking back, Ms Walsh said they were not intending to offend anyone or cause division, but they did firmly believe marriage was between a man and a woman.

Her fiance agreed, and they both felt that the current government’s plan to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage would be a good way to discuss it.

“In an ideal world a lot of what we said is in line with the Catholic Church and that’s what we subscribe to,” Mr O’Kane said.

“We prefer the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, and there are lots of different views on this in Australia and the world. It’s a worldwide issue. We believe people should have a say on the issue and if it is going to be a political issue we like the idea of a plebiscite.”

“But what we said [in front of the Pope], we were not trying to be overly political. We just do not support any change to the legal definition of marriage.”

Ms Walsh said they also explained to the Pope they had “struggled with chastity during their relationship”.

The couple had known each other for 10 years, and decided to marry after 14 months of dating long distance.

“It’s never easy. Of course we are attracted to each other and we could be tempted but we believe marriage is a total gift of ourselves to each other,” Ms Walsh told News Corp Australia.

The couple said Pope Francis did not reply to them directly, but he got their message and greeted them with a gift after they spoke.

“After the speech we just walked up the steps to where the Holy Father was sitting and he greeted us, shook our hands and gave us a gift. He gave each of us a set of rosary beads,” Mr O’Kane said.

“It was very brief, but he did ask us to pray for him”.

The couple plans to wed later in November this year.

To view the news video please click here

Story from: http://www.news.com.au/world/aussie-couple-tell-of-their-joys-and-fears-about-marriage-while-almost-speechless-in-front-of-the-pope/story-fndir2ev-1227549520471 

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Categorised in: Engaged, World Meeting of Families

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