My girlfriend grew up without any religious affiliation. She attended a Jesuit University – Marquette – but found her theology classes more “interesting” than “persuasive.”

She knew I was Catholic and had no problem with that as I didn’t try to push religion on her

She is one of the “nones” described in the article on pages 6 and 7 of this issue of myFaith. An increasing number of young adults under age 30 consider themselves “nones” – unaffiliated with religion.

It’s a tradition for my family to go to Mass at our parish, Mother of Good Counsel, Milwaukee, on Christmas Eve, and have a nice dinner afterward. I invited my girlfriend to come with us on our first Christmas Eve as a couple, and she did.

Before going, I gave her a Mass 101 course, informing her that there will be some singing, praying, standing, kneeling, sitting, and told her not to be embarrassed if she didn’t know the order of things.

During the homily, the priest talked about how God is always around, even when we don’t think he’s there, and that everything has a purpose. Even when a baby is born in a manger, he’s there, said the priest.

I’d heard similar homilies and, honestly, my focus was elsewhere. But, for some reason, this homily resonated with her.

Before we started dating, she had daily back and stomach pain that no amount of painkillers could reduce. She also had chronic fatigue. Shortly into our relationship, she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which meant she had to change her diet and lifestyle a little to prevent the pain and fatigue.

That meant no alcohol. She wasn’t a big partier, but at age 24 a lot of our friends liked to go to bars. I assured her it would be OK and we found other ways to have fun without drinking or staying out too late.

It also meant no sugar and no caffeine. This was more difficult to avoid but together we did the best we could to have meals without either of those things.

We started exercising more – first on our own and meeting for meals after, but also by going for walks and playing catch outside.

I’m not trying to win the Best Boyfriend of the Year Award, but she shouldn’t have to go through this alone.

After that Christmas Eve homily, she told me she felt God put me into her life to help her through these times. I didn’t know how to respond except that I loved her and I’m happy to do it.

She still considers herself unaffiliated when it comes to religion. But before, she was almost certain that there was no higher power or “God”; now she’s not sure if that’s true. We could’ve met at any time, but she said the timing was too good not to be some sort of divine intervention.

Although she still considers herself a “none,” the first step starts every journey.