A young newly married couple from Sydney have had their union blessed by Pope Francis.
Catholic Youth Parramatta Deanery Ambassador Henanita Fatu and her husband Peter Harrop were blessed by Pope Francis during one of his weekly General Audiences.
Posting an image of the encounter in the Vatican on Wednesday 22 January to Facebook, Peter described the event as “an amazing experience”.
“God is Good. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, blessed our Marriage and told us he is praying for Australia and those affected by the Bushfires [sic]. We are truly blessed for this amazing experience,” Peter said.
Speaking to Catholic Outlook upon their return to Australia, Peter and Henanita said that the meeting with Pope Francis left them in shock and awe.
“We were actually lost for words because we didn’t think it would actually happen. It was surreal!
“Having him bless our marriage was the ultimate blessing of all within our lives because the leader of the Catholic Church truly cared for the commitment that we had made with each other.
“All the events leading up to our personal encounter were pure bliss. It was worth waiting three hours outside in the freezing cold just to get inside.”
They explained that although entry into the General Audience at the Vatican is free, it was a much more difficult task to meet with the Holy Father.
“We always wanted to travel to the Vatican as one of our first trips as a married couple,” Peter said. “As the General Audience is only held on a Wednesday, we had to plan our trip to be in Rome for at least one Wednesday during the two-week honeymoon.
“Tickets to the General Audience are free, however, to get an invite and sit in the special Sposi Novelli section was a much more difficult task, but we were patient, hopeful and faithful.
“Our [marriage] celebrant, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney, had to write a letter to the Prefect of the Papal Household outlining that he was marrying us on 4 January 2020 and we were wishing to attend the Audience on 22 January to get our marriage blessed.
“The wait was nerve-racking as we had planned everything out with the assumption that the Pope would be available on that Wednesday.
“Thankfully our prayers were answered when we found out the Pope was available and the Papal Household replied back to the Archbishop, three months after he sent the initial letter of our intention.”
Peter and Henanita met whilst they were both studying Secondary Teaching, Theology and Arts degrees at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney.
They were married by Archbishop Fisher at St Mary’s Cathedral on 4 January 2020.
“To have the opportunity to get married at the Mother Church of Australia, St Mary’s Cathedral, is something that we dreamt about,” they said.
“With this in mind and our understanding of the Sacrament we were going to be ministers of, we really wanted our Nuptial Mass to emphasise the connection between the love of a husband and wife and that of Christ and the Church.
“We are very grateful to have had our wedding celebrated by the Archbishop of Sydney, who celebrated with priests that we are very close to and being surrounded by our family and friends was truly a dream come true.”
If given the opportunity to meet Pope Francis again, both Peter and Henanita would be honoured.
“This was a very emotional and amazing experience. I remember thinking to myself ‘Wow, is this even real? How is this possible?’ We would have never imagined ourselves sharing this special moment with him, to touch his hands, feel his warm, kind and loving embrace,” Henanita said.
Peter added, “The feeling of meeting the Holy Father and the Successor to Saint Peter is a feeling that we would never forget.
“To even be in his presence again would be an absolute blessing and we would cherish every moment with him.”