This tale has a few twists and turns, but what a delightful ending. Or should I say beginning?
Mary had finished high school and was drawn to the young adults group at St. Michael's Church in Overlea. A young seminarian named Tim Higgins was assigned to their group. He and Mary became good friends, and sometimes Tim would come to the house for dinner. He had a great personality and we all enjoyed him. Mary and some of her friends from the Young Adults group went to Tim's home in Portland, Maine one summer and traveled around the beautiful coast of the state.
The following Christmas, Rob came home from his two-year tour of Korea. He had a month's leave with us, and then left for his new assignment at Loring Air Force Base in Maine, not too far from the Canadian border. We had prayed that God would put Rob at the base God wanted. Rob wanted an assignment at a base in California. He had been in North Dakota and then Korea, and was hoping for a base in a more mild climate. But, now he was being sent farther north. God's ways are mysterious.
The following June, Mary received an invitation to Tim Higgins' ordination in Portland, Maine, his home diocese. In the meantime, Rob had purchased a new car and had a stereo from his old car that he wanted to give to Mary. He had a long weekend break, but unfortunately, it didn't coincide with Mary's trip for the ordination. So Rob and Mary decided that on his next long weekend, he would take the car stereo to Tim's house in Portland for Mary to take back to Baltimore after the ordination.
The trip from Loring to Portland is about an eight-hour drive. Rob planned to drop the stereo off, see a little of Portland, then spend the night at a motel before heading back to the base. When he got to Tim's home, Tim's mom insisted that Rob spend the night there, even though Tim and Rob had not met before. That evening, Tim took Rob out to see Portland and they enjoyed each other's company. The next day, Rob headed back to the base. A week or so later, Mary came up for the ordination, and after the celebration she brought the car stereo back.
Two weeks later, the now Father Tim called to let Mary know his first assignment was to be the Catholic parish in Caribou, Maine, the town next to Loring AFB. The family in Baltimore was delighted, and we quickly passed the news to Rob, who was also pleased. After Tim arrived in Caribou, he and Rob would get together for some R&R. That December, Mary went to Caribou to visit Tim and Rob, staying at the rectory.
In February, Rob told us about having met a girl named Julie from Caribou. A travel agent, Julie had seen Rob come into her agency on occasion and thought he was very handsome. However, she didn't really meet him until one night at a club across the Canadian border in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, and he asked her to dance. They began dating, and in the summer of that year Rob asked if he could bring Julie home with him when he came on leave. He wanted us to meet her. Wow! This was serious! Of course, we wanted to meet her! In August, Julie came home with Rob and they were engaged. We liked her immediately.
Julie shared with us that she had converted to Catholicism the year before because she was engaged to a local young man who was Catholic. But, just at the time Fr. Tim Higgins arrived at the parish, Julie had decided that this man was not right for her and had broken the engagement. It was a traumatic time for her, and to make things even more difficult, the priest who had instructed her in her new faith had been reassigned. He did, however, introduce her to Fr. Tim, who counseled her for a time. So, God prepared Julie and then set the wheels in motion for Fr. Tim to be at that parish at just the right time Rob was there. Loring AFB would close for good in 1994.
Fr. Tim officiated at Rob and Julie's wedding in December 1988, and he not only knew the people from Caribou, but most of us that came from Baltimore. It was a lovely wedding ceremony and mass; Fr. Tim made it so personal. As he said at the wedding, "The chances of all this happening as it did is like a million to one shot. This should make a believer out of you."
In 1991, Fr. Tim would also officiate at Mary and Christopher Gleason's wedding at St. William of York Parish in Baltimore. Since then, Fr. Tim has left the priesthood, gotten married, and started his own family.