All along, they said they only cared about the sacrament.
When Bailey Van Blarcom and Patrick McDermott got engaged last spring, they were happy to delegate the details of the planned April 25 celebration to Van Blarcom’s mom, Jodi.
“We didn’t care what colors the flowers were or what the first song was,” said Bailey Van Blarcom, 25. “We just wanted to get married at St. Stanislaus. That’s all we wanted.”
So God, it seems, gave them a chance to prove it. Invitations had already gone out to the couple’s 325 guests when the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, turned life upside down throughout the country, and then Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer At Home order essentially put the kibosh on their festivities by restricting public gatherings to 10 people.
But though they had to cancel the party, the couple never even considered postponing the marriage. Not only had they been waiting for more than a year to set up a home together and begin their married life, they had been praying to St. Mark the Evangelist — whose feast day is April 25 — throughout their engagement that their nuptial Mass could be used for the glory of God and as a means of evangelization.
“So we thought, let’s use this for Christ,” said McDermott, 34.
Their shared Catholic faith has been the cornerstone of their relationship from the very beginning. The couple first met at Magnetek in Menomonee Falls, where they both work, about 18 months ago. “I knew he was a nice Catholic gentleman because there was this one day he came in all dressed up to go to Mass — it was a Holy Day of Obligation,” said Bailey Van Blarcom. For their third date, McDermott picked her up on a Sunday morning and took her to Mass at his parish, St. Stanislaus Oratory on the near south side. Six months later, in April 2019, he proposed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
It was the middle of March when it became apparent the wedding Jodi Van Blarcom had been so carefully planning wouldn’t happen the way the family envisioned. As COVID cases increased locally and restrictions on social gatherings became tighter, it was the reception venue that canceled first, followed by the caterer, band and DJ. Family members and out-of-town bridesmaids and groomsmen reached out to say they couldn’t travel. The lavish sit-down dinner became a small parlor reception for 10.
But the most important detail of the day never changed: it was happening at St. Stanislaus, and it would be, as the Catechism so beautifully says, “a true sacrament of the New Covenant.”
“It was like we were in the Upper Room at Pentecost — it was small, without pressure, without material concerns for the spouses, so their souls were very available for the grace of the sacrament,” said Canon Benoit Jayr, pastor at St. Stanislaus, who presided at the nuptial Mass.
“I used to do confirmation classes at our parish, and once a year I would feel the Holy Spirit at confirmation. I would only get that feeling on confirmation day,” said Jodi Van Blarcom. “But in St. Stanislaus that day, with just the few of us, I felt that the whole church was filled with the Holy Spirit. It didn’t feel empty. It felt full of love — God’s love.”
Just a few weeks before the big day, Jodi had an idea to include their local friends and family in the fun — a socially distanced parade of drive-by well wishers at the Van Blarcoms’ home in Colgate. Friends set up a tent in the front yard and the happy couple spent several hours at the end of the driveway handing out cupcakes and mini bottles of champagne to family and friends who drove by to give them their love.
“So many people came out of their house just to see something good,” said Jodi. “I was never sad that whole day. I just felt so blessed by all these people in my life who were willing to make our daughter feel like a bride that day.”
It may not have been the wedding they envisioned a year ago in Rome when they got engaged, but both the bride and groom agreed that April 25, 2020, was “magnificent.”
When they tell their children about their wedding day, Bailey Van Blarcom said that she plans to say that “the only three people there that mattered were Patrick, me and God.”
“I think that it was an unforgettable wedding because the plans were totally changed on the human level, but on the supernatural level, it was a very special day — a day of divine graces,” said Canon Jayr. “Divine Providence uses historical circumstances to do always something greater, and I’m sure that this wedding Mass has a profound impact on many souls — that was God’s secret.”
“We truly believe that our relationship is providential,” said McDermott. “I think it was providential that we got married at this time, too.”