A Very Special and
Unique Engagement. Then it
happened. It was well after midnight on the
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, early December 12. After the special Midnight Mass John-Paul
took Elizabeth to Mary’s altar. They
prayed; he proposed; she said yes; and voila; they were engaged! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ..... my
favorite manifestation of Mary. I lived
in the neighborhood of her basilica shrine in Mexico City all of April 1965,
learning Spanish in preparation for my 14 years as a lay missionary in
Peru. I visited Mary every day. For the fascinating history of Nuestra Señora de
Guadalupe go to
(104) Our Lady of Guadalupe
(I): Binding the Americas Together
(105) Our Lady of Guadalupe
(II): Mary’s Message to us in the Image
(199) A Homecoming to the
Great Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City
Los dos novios spent the next
several months planning for the wedding and going through an extensive and very
thorough marriage preparation conducted by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. See Appendix I for details. Then there was a lot of planning and
organizing……..bridal gown, dress for the wedding party, rehearsal and dinner,
priest, church, wedding reception, etc.
The couple did a great job at this.
They even had a website made with
information about how they met, dating, courtship, their coming wedding, and great
photos of their engagement, respective families that will merge into an extended family as
well as photos of their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Go to www.elizabethlovesjohnpaul.com
that will eventually be changed to a more permanent www.elizabethlovesjohnpaul.minted.us.
My daughter Naomi, my wife Jaga, and I flew down to Dallas on
July 2. We stayed with Stephanie and
Daniel in their domestic church (what a home really is). They even made a chapel full of classic icons out of a small room. We met Tony and
Nancy Herrera for the first time at a great get together for the 4th
of July at their home. We also met
Grandma Mary Agnes Herrera. Her husband Eduardo was stuck in Guatemala
since flights to the United States were cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Victoria,
the Maid of Honor and Elizabeth’s younger sister, is an Art major with a focus
on Ceramics at the University of Dallas.
dinner, Victoria had the entire wedding party practicing for a little Broadway
type musical show for the wedding reception.
Wow! That petit energetic girl used
the wide driveway as an improvised stage.
Victoria is quite agile; she showed them and had the wedding party
moving! We put chairs on the street and
saw fireworks from the local park several blocks away.
The Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties.
John-Paul and his studs had a clean living macho party for real he-men…….They
were shooting each other with paint balls and had a great time.
girls? Let the bride describe it: “We had a slumber party where everyone stayed
in Keller and we got to catch up, meet everyone, tell stories, do face masks
and nails! In the morning we went to
Trinity Forest Adventure Park where we went ziplining and ropes coursing in the
trees! We were harnessed in and got to
swing and climb like the monkeys! We
finished with lunch at Stephanie's house eating chicken salad, salad and
fruit! It was the best!!”
The Rehearsal Dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I had a lot of fun with my rehearsal dinner
speech. The introduction consisted of singing
a lullaby song I made up in Spanish when John-Paul was a baby 31 years ago. Since there were many Spanish speakers in the
audience, why not honor the Herrera family's beautiful heritage by making the speech bilingual
since I love the language? I
mentioned our pride in the couple in going through the courtship and engagement in the
right way; my delight that John-Paul chose a woman of a latino heritage, exhorting them to be proud of their Latin American and Polish heritage;
that Abuelito Tony speak to the children in Spanish and Babcia Jaga in
Polish. Since Tony Herrera is a rabid
Steeler fan and so is John-Paul and I, it was fun taking a playful jab at the
local Dallas Cowboys. That met a mixture
of cheers and boos. See Appendix II for
the complete text.
Day……July 10, 2020
Getting ready. The mirror shows all the action in the
preparation room at the church. Notice
the photographer taking a picture of the group, including herself.
The studs, a.k.a. John-Paul, the groom and his groomsmen are getting ready too.
Shoe Trade Saga. Half an hour before the 3 pm ceremony, the
wedding party was still getting ready in the church. Despite all the hustle and bustle, John-Paul
was secure that he remembered everything.
Then he made a discovery. His
shoes weren’t shined! “Houston, we have a
problem!” Then we remembered that Joseph
has even bigger feet than John-Paul……size 14.
It would be a perfect fit. Big
feet run in our family. “Joseph, could
you do me a big favor? Could you switch
shoes with me?” Little brother dutifully
obliged. It worked like a charm. Problem solved! When it was all over, “Joseph, your shoes are
now very special to me; they are the shoes I wore at my wedding. Could we make the trade permanent? Thanks, Joseph.” When his age, JP's father almost went to an
interview with two different (unpaired) shoes......a chip off the old block.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE! Tony Herrera escorts his
daughter to the altar to entrust John-Paul with the responsibility of providing for and protecting Elizabeth with deep love for the rest of his life.
The time finally arrived at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Keller, Texas (a Ft. Worth suburb). Since Texas was a hot spot of the coronavirus, we had to wear masks and every other row was kept vacant. The following video will give you the sensation of being there at the wedding and the reception even if you could not attend in person.
After the reading of the Gospel, the couple will kiss the sacred book. Pictured on the Bible are the four
evangelists of the Gospel……Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with Christ at the center.. May they always be faithful to the Gospel,
not only to keep it, but also to spread it in little or big ways beginning in
their own little domestic church, the home.
After all, the chief educators in the faith are the parents, a grave
responsibility. Catechism teachers are
The Wedding Ceremony. It was Nancy Baeza Herrera, the mother of the
bride who did a great job in taking the photos.
Her husband Tony came into the church pulling a wagon full of her
photographic equipment. Nancy is a
professional photographer, who can be contacted through her website https://www.itsjustmephotography.com/.
To see all the wedding photos, write “Elizabeth
Herrera Sebastian” firstname.lastname@example.org for the link and password.
Fr. Christopher Andrews presided at the Nuptial Mass. The lectors were Monica Ashour and Richard Le Grand. The cantor, Erin Scalisi; the flower girls, Everly Guilbeault & Daphne Chernoff; the ring bearers Zachary Guilbeault & Seth Wooming.
The exchange of rings
that bind John-Paul and Elizabeth together until death do they part. Through
their vows the couple in reality administers the sacrament. God, His priest, Fr. Christopher Andrews, and
all of us are the witnesses to this sacred bond (symbolized by the rings) that
John-Paul and Elizabeth commit themselves to each other freely, completely, and
Elizabeth’s co-worker, Nimitz HS choir director Erin
Scalisi sang all the songs for the Mass except for one, which was sung by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Left to right are
Jordan & Mara Borer Matteoli, Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta, and her husband Daniel Spiotta.
Our Lord is there too in
the Eucharist as we recall the Gospel verse: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (Matthew
John-Paul and Elizabeth present flowers to Mary at her altar.
entire wedding party. From left to right
are Ellen Rogers, Zeina Chernoff, Kerry Kennedy, Rachel Polzer,
Jennifer Brady, Naomi Sebastian Faro, Annamica Klem, Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta,
Rachel Sullivan, Mara Borer Matteoli, Jenna Bowersock, Victoria Herrera, the bride
and the groom, Joseph Sebastian, Patrick Gordon, Jordan Matteoli, Jacob
Bowersock, Daniel Spiotta, Matthew Klem, Michael Reardon, Santi Duran, Andrew
Gill, Daniel Ybarra, and Justin Ryan. And let’s not forget the little guys……the
ring bearers and the flower girls: Seth Wooming, Daphne Chernoff, and Everly
Guilbeault. The other ring bearer, Zachary Guilbeault must have gotten lost
And now we are a
family of eight, thanks to Daniel Spiotta and his wife Stephanie on the left and the
bride, Elizabeth Herrera Sebastian with her groom John-Paul. To the right of the groom are the parents, Jaga Gajda Sebastian and Paul, Joseph, and
The Herrera Family also
increased by one! To the left of the
bride and groom are Victoria and her mother Nancy Baeza Herrera. On the right is Tony Herrera, John-Paul’s newly minted father-in-law, both rabid Steeler fans.
The grandparents of the
bride. Eduardo Herrera could not get out of Guatemala because of Covid-19. Mary Agnes Herrera on the right arrived before the lockdown. To the left of the bride are Oscar Baeza and Manuela Salas. John-Paul’s deceased grandparents --Jozef and Frederyka Kasprovicz Gajda and Drs. John J.S. and Stephanie Mihalich Sebastian-- are there
in spirit. Now John-Paul has a new set of grandparents.
Wedding celebrations also serve as family reunions and we
remember our loved ones who have passed on to eternity, in this case......the Sebastian and Gajda extended families on John-Paul's side and the Herrera and Salas and Baeza extended families on Elizabeth's side. Some of them are in the following picture of
family at the wedding of Paul and Jaga Gajda Sebastian.
Three people in this
August 13, 1988 wedding photo of John-Paul’s parents are no longer with us, but
were present at the wedding of John-Paul and Elizabeth in spirit. Many of the invited extended family did not
attend because Texas was a hotspot for the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, but
were also there in spirit. From left to
right are Nicole Sebastian Peeney, Frederyka Kasprowicz Gajda (Jaga’s mother,
now deceased), John Sebastian (Paul’s younger brother), Dr. Stephanie Mihalich
Sebastian (John-Paul’s grandmother, now deceased), John Victor Sebastian II,
Mark Sebastian, Jaga & Paul Sebastian, Michelle Sebastian Gleason,
Frederick Sebastian (Paul’s youngest brother who never married, now deceased),
and Kathleen Marks Sebastian (John’s wife).
Among the fruits of the marriage of Paul and Jaga is the handsome groom,
John-Paul. We are looking forward to the
fruits of the marriage of John-Paul and Elizabeth. Look who has the grey hair now. Time marches on until we’re all together
again for that big party in Heaven.
You’re all invited; MAKE SURE YOU GET THERE!
A lot of love went into
the rings. You see, the groom’s
uncle, Wujek Janusz is a goldsmith in his little shop in
Kielce, Poland. John-Paul got the measurements and Janusz
Pożoga made the rings by hand. They sent
the rings by mail
and we waited anxiously for weeks, but no rings because of
Covid lockdowns in Europe. Jaga prayed and
they arrived a
day before our departure just in time. And guess what? They
fit perfectly. Don’t let anything ever break those bonds
which these rings symbolize.
The gold wedding rings of the newly weds made by John-Paul’s
uncle Janusz Pożoga in his goldsmith shop in Kielce, Poland. Notice the
inscriptions inside both rings, "AMDG", abbreviations for the Jesuit
motto in Latin "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" which means "For the
greater glory of God". May they and us too make that a motto for our
left to right in this 2017 photo are Michał Pożoga & his son Adaś, mother
of the groom Jadwiga “Jaga” Gajda Sebastian, her brother Józef “Józek” Gajda of
Chicago, her sister Marija & Janusz Pożoga, the goldsmith who made the
wedding rings with so much love added.
Michał, following in his father’s footsteps as a goldsmith, engraved the special inscriptions inside each ring.
Absent are the groom’s other cousins in Poland: Eva Pożoga Ziębińska,
Dagmara Pożoga Olchawa, and Łucasz
Pożoga. The Pożogas could not make. the
trip from Kielce, Poland, but were with us in spirit.
The engagement ring of Elizabeth below her wedding ring above is also special. Many years ago John-Paul's uncle Józef Gajda bought the diamond ring for his mother Frederyka Kasprowicz Gajda during his visit to Russia. She later gave it to her daughter Jaga, the mother of the groom, who many years later gave the ring to her son John-Paul for his fiancé. This family treasure was thus passed down through three generations.
in Colorado. The background in the
second photo is the Colorado National Monument.
I: JP & Elizabeth’s Excellent Marriage Preparation
Described by Elizabeth Herrera Sebastian
I wanted to take a minute to tell
you about the extensive preparation John Paul and I have gone through with St.
Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and the Diocese
of Fort Worth. In this diocese, we are expected to go through various courses and prep classes which
have been very enlightening and incredible to go through. All of this prep
makes me a proud member of the Diocese of Fort Worth and SEAS. The first
was an informational session in which they go through all the
requirements. This session is led by three parish employees who
explain each requirement and have been in contact with us regarding our
"packet" which was just completed yesterday! This session
lasted a couple of hours. At the end of this course, we each took a 160
question "test" independently of one another. We were
instructed to not look at each other's answers, but they will come into play
We first attended a Pre Cana class taught by our very good
friend and spiritual mother, Monica Ashour. She is the leader of the
Theology of the Body Evangelization Team (TOBET) here in DFW. She
leads the JPII Theology of the Body study group every Wednesday at the JPII
house (John Paul's house). I don't know how much you know about this
group, but it is incredible! We gather every Wednesday and have dinner
and then read and discuss content on the body and dignity of man and woman in
relation to one another and specifically in marriage. This has honestly
been an incredible marriage prep without actually calling itself that because
of what we discuss.
Monica Ashour, flanked by John-Paul and Elizabeth in their Pre-Cana
It was a very welcoming surprise
when we walked into our Pre-Cana course and our good friend, Monica Ashour, was
there to lead us in two nights of reading, discussing, and information
regarding the church, marriage, and what it means to say "I
DO." It was eye opening to see the couples in the room who did not
attend daily mass as JP and I do, who don't fully believe in the church or in the
traditional roles of a man and woman; however, the class was taught VERY well
and Monica was strong and Truthful in emphasizing "the body matters"
which is her big "go-to" saying, and how beautiful this sacrament of
marriage is while rooting us all in basic Catholic theology. Each night they
served us dinner which was a VERY nice bonus! :)
The next course we got started on
was our Natural Family Planning (NFP)
class which is required in the Diocese of Fort Worth (unlike in the Diocese of
Dallas). We were originally going to take this course with JP's previous
roommate Andrew Gill, but then ended up taking it with a delightful woman by
the name of Lindsey Sinclair and she was very informative and helpful. We
had to take four sessions in which she reinforced the Church's stances on being
Pro Life and natural in conceiving.
Lisa and Tom Flobeck, the mentor couple, who coached the bride & groom along.
Lastly, we were required to
participate in the "Fully Engaged" course, but we
were not alone!! This last course was taken with a sponsor couple!
We were paired with Tom and Lisa Flobeck and they were so incredible! Tom
and Lisa were kind enough to wait until we were able to meet with them in
person after the quarantine loosened up a little. From the start, we were
greeted with warm smiles and hugs not with arms (due to social distancing) but
with welcoming words. We met with them a total of four times, but for other
couples it may be more depending on how quickly they go through the material.
We read 14 sections/chapters together and each chapter had several questions
which they would answer some questions and then we would answer some
questions. This is where they would share their personal experiences and
insights with us and WOW! it was so good to hear from them! I love
hearing stories and experiences from those who have more to share than I
After answering the questions in
the book, we would look at the questions John Paul and I answered from our 160
questionnaire back during the informational session!! Now, we had
answered these questions months ago and it was very interesting to see how we
answered them back then and how some of our answers have already
changed!! All of our answers were put together in a packet which had the following
format: question, preferred answer for the Church, Groom's answer, Bride's
answer. Every time our answers differed from the church, differed from each
other or a question was a priority regardless of how we answered, we went over
the question and discussed our answers.
More stories were shared between
our sponsor couple and ourselves, and it was enlightening to see how they love
each other so much and have grown closer to God because of their
marriage. They have distinct differences which were sometimes stark and
obvious such as Lisa was quick tempered and very strong in character and a
definite leader. Tom was a little quieter and laid back. She was a night
person and does not like getting up early, he is a morning bird and loves to
get up and get going with his day. The differences go on and on, but they
have so much in common which is love for each other, God, the Church and giving
back. These obvious similarities to me were reasons why they love each
other so much, and there are certainly many many more reasons and
similarities. The most obvious take away for me from our sponsor couple
sessions was about how it is absolutely ok for John Paul and I to have our
differences and it is even ok for us to disagree.
I wanted to tell you the
titles of the 14 chapters we read and discussed: Differences, Division of
Labor, Recreational Activities, Family of Origin, Communication, Conflict
Resolution, Catholic Identity, Finances, Intimacy, Infertility and Adoption,
Catholic Parenting, Vocation/Career, and Sacrament of Marriage. Lisa brought
our fourth meeting to a close with the following conclusion which I will never
forget. She asked us two questions: At this point, can you honestly say
that you are entering this marriage "without coercion, freely and
wholeheartedly? We both said yes. Are you entering this marriage with the
understanding that the two of you will be together for life? We both said yes.
Then she said, "Great! That's all I care about!......because this is
irreversible!" We all kind of laughed, but what she said has so much truth
to it. One of the major themes lately in the Wednesday night study group
is the verse "my sister, my bride." John Paul is my brother, my
groom. I am his sister, his bride. Just as the relationship between
a sister and brother are irreversible, so is the sacrament of marriage.
Marriage will not be perfect, but I do know we are perfect for each
The last thing we recently had to
do was visit with Candy who you will see at our wedding rehearsal at the church.
She had us answer a prenuptial questionnaire which was very serious and
unlike what we had done so far. She asked us a series of questions which
were along the lines of, "Are you aware of the commitment you are about to
do, Are you currently married, are you forced to be here, are you willing to
give yourself entirely to your spouse, are you willing to be faithful,
etc." and hearing John Paul answer these questions brought me to a little
tear. It was so beautiful hearing him answer these questions because I
know God has given me a strong, faithful, dedicated, honest man who will love
me forever through whatever challenges we will be given. There is no one
I'd rather live my life with than your son and I am so grateful to God, Jaga,
You-Paul, and the entire Sebastian lineage for creating the man I am about to
give my whole self to. I am honored to become a Sebastian.
I love you greatly as well.
In only a few more weeks we will be united once again and in 37 days, we will
have the biggest party we are able to have!!!!!! I know this celebration
will be so full of life, love, excitement, and merriment!!! I can't wait
to dance the night away with you and the family!!
If you have time, I would love to
hear some stories about how you have given yourself completely to Jaga.
What have you done in your marriage that worked and opened you up to give her
love and receive her love? What were some of your struggles and
solutions? As I mentioned earlier, I love hearing stories and personal stories
from you would be very special to hear... or read in the form of an
Dinner Speech By the Father of the Groom
The following speech is bilingual as a tribute to Elizabeth and her family and their rich Latin American heritage, something that merits great pride. We are Americans first. Yet we take great pride in our ethnic roots........Hungary and Poland on John-Paul's side........Guatemala, Mexico, and Spain on Elizabeth's side.
Let's turn the clock back exactly 31 years and do a
replay: “Juan Pablito, wawito, bebito,
chiquito, y lindo......lindo”. Juan
Pablito just didn't want to go to sleep until I sang it several times. You see Jaga and I agreed that I would speak
to our kids only in Spanish and she would speak to them only in Polish. After all I'm Polish by marriage. Research shows that kids have a marvelous
affinity for languages as long as each person consistently speaks to the child
in only one language. Then the child
identifies the language with the person and does not confuse one language with
the other. Abuelito Antonio, por favor,
habla con tus nietos solamente en Español.
Babcia Jadwiga, proshe talk to your grandchildren only in Polish.
I sang in Spanish because I love Latin America,
particularly Mexico and Peru, having spent 14 years there as a lay missionary teaching business,
economic development, chemistry, and the methodology of science teaching at the
Universidad Católica de Santa María in Arequipa, Perú. I would read Bible stories to our children
in Spanish and they understood. We
called the book “El Libro de Jesus”. We
also watched the adventures of Perro Pepe on PBS TV. Little Stefcia would call her big brother
Juan Wawito. She speaks very good Spanish
Mientras que cantaba el lullaby improvisado en español, no
pensé que mi primer hijo crecería ser un hombre guapo, intelligente,
fuerte......y encontrar una joya como la Princesa Elizabeth en el corazón de
Texas. Estoy felíz que Elizabeth Herrera
viene de una familia con raices latinoamericanos........es decir Guatemala y
México......paises con una herencia cultural muy rica.
As I was singing my improvised lullaby in Spanish, little
did I realize that our first born would grow up to become a handsome,
intelligent, and strong man and find such a gem as Princess Elizabeth deep in
the heart of Texas. I am delighted that
Elizabeth Herrera comes from a family with Latin American roots, namely, Guatemala
and Mexico........countries with a rich cultural heritage. And as a bonus the members of her family
are loyal citizens of Steeler Nation........Yes!!! Go Steelers; beat the Cowboys.
are proud of you John Paul and Elizabeth for choosing as the venue for your
engagement the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe after midnight Mass on her feast
day this past December 12. Viva Cristo
Rey and the heroes of the Cristero War in Mexico for religious freedom! Viva ls Virgencita de Guadalupe! Let me hear it.......VIVA! Que Cristo siempre sea el centro de su
familia. May Christ always be the center
of your home. May the patroness of the
Americas always nurture your faith and pray for your family.
Somos orgullosos de Uds. por hacer su preparación por el
sacramento de Matrimonio en una manera muy recta........nada de vivir juntos
antes de la boda. Que Uds. sean un
fuente de luz in un mundo oscuro. Que
Uds. sean testigos de lo que una familia cristiana debe ser. Somos felices que Uds han crecidos
spiritualment durante su tiempo juntos.
Eso es lo que un matriomonio es........sanctificación mutua y el
producto de su amor serán hijos.
We are also proud of you both for going through your
courtship and engagement in the right way.......no shacking up. Now may you be a beacon of light in a dark
world. May you be a witness as to what a
marriage and a Christian family should be.
We are very happy that both of you have grown spiritually during your
time together. That's what marriage is
all about......mutual sanctification and the product of your love will be
Si, Uds son primeramente, Americanos. Pero sean orgullosos de su herenecia
cultural. Imigrantes han hecho America
un gran país. Generalmente solamente los
mejores vienen.......los que estan listos de trabajar duro por poco sueldo;
listos de mejorarse; de superar obstaculos y incertidumbre.........todos
contribuyeno al bien común. Quizás ellos
no logran el sueño americano immidiatemente, pero sus hijos y/o sus nietos con
frecuencia son exitosos. Tu papa,
Elizabeth es um gran ejemplo de un inmigrante que logró el sueño
americano. Este pequeño discurso es
bilingue para ser un tributo a sus antepasados.
Qué no les olvidemos porque están aqui en espíritu. Y extranyamos un Herrera que no podía salir
de Guatemala debido a la coronavirus.
Espero con anticipacin de conocerle.
Yes, you are Americans first. Yet be proud of your cultural heritage. Immigrants have made America great. Generally only the best come, those who are
willing to work hard for little, improve themselves, overcome many obstacles
and uncertainty......all contributing to the common good. They may not achieve the American dream
immediately, but their children and/or grandchildren often do. Your father, Elizabeth is a prime example of
one who did. This talk is bilingual to
be a tribute to your forefathers. Let us
not forget them because they are here in spirit. And we very much miss your Grandpa Herrera
who could not leave Guatemala because of the coronavirus. I'm looking forward to meeting him personally.
Conserven su herencia rica.
Animen a sus hijos aprender español.
Formenles con virtud para servir a Dios y la Patria. Pasen la herencia a sus hijos. Pasen la fé a ellos. Entonces el mundo será un poquíto mejor
debido a Uds. y sus hijos.
Preserve your rich heritage. Encourage your children to learn
Spanish. Form them with virtue to serve
God and Country. Pass down the heritage. Pass down the faith. Then the world will be just a little bit
better because of you and your children.
Toast by Victoria Herrera, the Maid of Honor and Sister of the Bride
Hi everyone, my name is Victoria and I am Elizabeth’s sister. Since I am the younger sister, I have the pleasure of having Elizabeth as my role model and the person who I’ve looked up to my whole life. She is an amazing, hard working person and I’ve always been known as Elizabeth’s younger sister. I've never minded the comparison though because she is my inspiration and I have always wanted to be like her. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a swimmer in high school, just like her, but turns out dancing is more my thing. I thought I also wanted to be super involved in theater, but I realized that studio art was more my thing.
If I could, I would be just like Elizabeth, but turns out we are still different people and she has always helped me figure out how to be myself. And thank goodness for our differences because it has allowed us to come together to make and create things even from an early age. I used to make up dances and teach them to Elizabeth in our kitchen (and it's funny how some things don’t actually change), and in middle school, Elizabeth would help me with my monologues.
I love finding those moments where our creative sides can blend together, like Elizabeth being the subject of my portrait drawings or me playing and pausing music during her quarantine puppet show. It’s always fun to see the different ways we help each other out. And Elizabeth has helped me out in so many ways throughout the years, whether it be helping me while I struggle to write my first 5 page Phil and Eth paper, or her just coming to keep me company in the art studio. It is moments like those that I am so thankful to have Elizabeth as that person who I know will always be there for me.
I’ve always admired how independent she is and how she is always doing things at full speed and does not slow down for anyone. I’ve always known that Elizabeth needs someone who can keep up with her go go go personality, and you know what, it turns out that John Paul is a runner and is capable of keeping up with her.
Now, I’m sure my dad will go into the first time we ever met John Paul, but I wanted to share a moment from the second time I ever met him. It was at a waterpark and we had rode separately so I was trying to find Elizabeth and JP and I ended up seeing them in the lazy river. I was trying to call out to them to get their attention and say hi and,, they were there in their little tubes going down the river and they were holding hands, talking and Elizabeth was smiling and truly laughing and it was such a simple yet sweet moment and it made me step back and think, because that was only the second time I had ever seen John Paul.
All I really knew was that he was a Steelers fan and that he had this really big beard, I was still pretty unsure of him. But I also knew that if Elizabeth was giving this guy her attention, he must be pretty special, and seeing how happy they were together that day made me think “Yeah, maybe she does really like this guy.”
Ever since, Elizabeth and John Paul have always been laughing and making each other happy. John Paul, you are the calmest person I have ever met in my life, which is why you are absolutely perfect for my sister. Elizabeth deserves the absolute best and nothing has made me happier than seeing how happy she is with you, John Paul. I know that you will treat her right, and I know guys will live such a wonderful life together.
I’m so glad I got to help out with a lot of wedding planning and that I was there through every step of the way, from the beginning when JP messaged me on FB asking for Elizabeth’s ring size, all the way to a few days ago when I was hand painting table number cards.
Everything has come together so beautifully and as the biggest show Elizabeth has ever directed and it turned out truly amazing…. So, here is a toast to my life long best friend and her new life long best friend. I love you both dearly. Cheers!!!
Toast by Mara Borer Matteoli
by Joseph Sebastian, the Co-Best Man and Brother of the Groom
Wow. I still find it hard to believe that John-Paul is
marrying such a beautiful and wonderful woman. As John-Paul's brother, I
appreciate him n' all, but I think my basic attitude was "Who could ever
learn to love a beast?" Like this is the guy that when I was a little kid
would torment me by placing me on the carpet and then whenever I would try to
leave the carpet, would tackle me right back into place. As John-Paul and
Elizabeth's relationship had advanced, I remember him telling me, "Joseph,
she really likes me"...but I
still had my doubts. But then I got the Save the Date and saw their wedding
website: ElizabethLovesJohnPaul.com. It's on the internet, it must be true.
So how did we get here?
As long as I have known him, John-Paul has been a
dreamer. He loves to imagine weird hypothetical situations or fantasize about
being like Michael Jordan or his favorite movie characters. At one point, he
was in love with Arwen who is an elf from The Lord of the Rings. Since Arwen is
already married to Aragorn and is also fictional, this dream wasn't quite
actionable. But in general, John-Paul would follow these words of a wise man:
"Don't let your dreams be dreams...Just Do It!"
Like once, our family
was visiting Stephanie at her college in California. There were some nearby
mountains and they were sending a challenge to be conquered. So John-Paul and I
resolved to climb one. We didn't tell our family we were going in case they
would say no. So after drinking some water and without any further preparation
we left to climb the mountain. After a while the trail ended, but we decided to
push on. After a couple of hours, we realized that it was going to take longer
than we had thought. But we weren't going to turn back. Eventually we made it
to what we concluded to be the top.
But we still had to make it back down and
we were very thirsty in that hot California sun. So we slid down the mountain
the best we could. Our throats got so parched that we thought we might die out
there. John-Paul got so desperate he drank from a dubious puddle. But we
survived and that is one of my favorite memories.
But I think the greatest example of John-Paul following
his dream is in his pursuit of Elizabeth. I remember when he brought up his
intention of proposing. Some of us thought it might be more prudent to wait
longer. But John-Paul had the dream that he would propose after the midnight
Mass on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And he did it!
It was very appropriate that John-Paul proposed after
Mass. From his start of Exodus 90 to the proposal, John-Paul was being led by
Christ. Saint Pope John-Paul II said, "It is Jesus who stirs in you the
desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the
refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to
commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society,
making the world more human and more fraternal". John-Paul's devotion to
Elizabeth is fueled by his devotion to Christ. And I know that God in his
goodness will lead them in their marriage in the years to come.
To the bride and groom!
by Patrick Gordon, the Co-Best Man and College Roommate
been honored to know John Paul since we met in the Florida swamp lands at a
small Catholic college in 2008. Little
did I know that this nerdy, quiet, basketball-shorts loving man would become
one of my very best friends – And he turned out to be a lot less shy, nerdy,
and a lot more crazy, wild, and fun than I would have ever known at first
glance. I could not have imagined when I met this guy in the laundry room of
our college dorm that we would end up as roommates three times in three
different states. (So, Elizabeth, if you
ever have questions about living with this guy, let me know…but for now, I
would just say watch where you put your toothbrush.)
in all seriousness, the reason I am so honored to be friends with this man is
not only because of how John Paul is truly one of the most genuine, unique, and
magnanimous men have I ever known, but because where John Paul is there are
ALWAYS spontaneous adventures waiting to happen. Anyone I’ve ever met who has had the chance
to become friends with John Paul for any amount of time will always be able to
share a “John Paul Story” … Many of these stories might revolve around John
Paul’s passion for Poland, his Catholic Faith, and his love for playing or
watching sports…most especially those Steelers or his idol Michael Jordon. John
Paul is the kind of man who is not willing to settle for mediocrity and lives
fully what Pope Benedict XVI has famously said: “You were not made for comfort;
you were made for greatness!”
Paul truly possesses a childlike wonder and passion for living life to the
fullest – I’ll always remember the time John Paul called me and asked me to
pick him up after he decided to start running a marathon without any
training. Or the time he followed me
hiking down the side of a mountain and blamed me for breaking his tailbone on
the way down (It’s still not my fault!).
Or maybe his evangelization ministries at the local sports bar. But honestly, above the quirky, funny, and
unique stories, I have always heard those who know John Paul speak to how
genuine he is as person – What you see is truly who he is. I have never met someone with such a natural
authenticity – John Paul truly seems fearless to be who he really is…and yet
going beyond that, John Paul is a generous and patient man, willing to lend a
listening ear to anyone he meets. It’s
therefore no surprise that so many can call him friends today.
all the John Paul stories so far, my favorite one is this one – the one in
which he met Elizabeth. And no – I’m not
referring to their classically awkward first date – But rather, I have been so
blessed to witness John Paul meeting someone who complements him in such a
spectacular way. Elizabeth has truly
demonstrated a love and appreciation for John Paul that is so completely
genuine – she is someone who appreciates him so fully for all of his
idiosyncrasies and Polish craziness – someone who loves to run and workout as
much as he does – John Paul has been blessed to have found Elizabeth.
has been so cool to watch how passionate John Paul loves Elizabeth – There are
few things John Paul has shown greater devotion towards than his beloved
Poland, Steelers, or Michael Jordon – And yet, Elizabeth has become precisely
that – He has shown such a dedicated and passionate love for her in a way that
has been truly inspiring.
finally, at the heart of all it, and really what I see as the true sign of the
authenticity of their relationship, is that their entire relationship has been
grounded and nurtured in their faith and trust in God. It has been truly awesome to watch John Paul
grow and mature in his faith and rise to become a spiritual leader in his
relationship with Elizabeth – to watch this couple place their love in the
hands of Jesus and Mary has been an inspiration to me. Thus, it was fitting that their life of faith
led them to their engagement on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. By placing their trust in the mother of Christ,
I know that they will always be in safe hands. Mary is watching out for you
Toast: Let us raise our glasses then to John Paul
and Elizabeth – May you have many, many happy new adventures and stories that
you create together. And may you keep up
your running – all while running together towards Christ– and in finding Him
may you find the always the source of love and grace that will sustain you
forever in a happiness that will never cease!
by Ellen Rogers
Hi everyone. My name is Ellen Rogers and I am one of the bridesmaids. There have been so many lovely toasts this evening, but now I would like to move into the performance part of the evening with a one-woman show I have written for this occasion.
Just kidding! I promise I’m not gonna do that. But it would be fitting if I did! I met Elizabeth at the University of Dallas almost five years ago now. We both worked on a play called Mary Stuart. I was the stage manager and Elizabeth was the assistant stage manager but I was sort of intimated because she knew way more than me and knew exactly how everything was supposed to be. She helped me so much & made that process go so
smoothly. Right away I knew I would love working with her - she has an amazing
work ethic, she’s dedicated, she’s calm, she’s just great to be around. And we
worked on many more shows together at UD and a couple outside of college, in
all sorts of different roles.
But I got really lucky when we began forming a
bond outside of theater because I got to see more of who Elizabeth really is-
and everyone here tonight surely knows this about her too- Elizabeth has a
heart of gold. When I think of Elizabeth the image in my mind is of just pure
sunshine, warmth and radiant beauty. She has a great sense of humor, she cares
deeply for her family, her community and her students. She is courageous and does
not back down from a challenge. The more I admire Elizabeth as a theater artist
the more I admire her as a person because she can see truth and beauty in a
story and bring that to life. And if you haven’t seen one of her show’s yet,
just you wait until COVID is over and we’re allowed to open theaters again!
Because she is so smart and talented, and she makes beautiful theater.
Now I haven’t known John Paul for very long,
but anyone who is worthy of Elizabeth’s hand in marriage must be a remarkable
man. It’s a beautiful witness to the world to see y’alls commitment to each
other and to keep Christ at the center of your lives.
One of the less glamorous privileges of being
in the bridal party is that all week long leading up to the wedding we get to
prepare favors and programs and practice and get things ready. But for
Elizabeth and John Paul, Christ has been preparing the two of you to enter this
sacrament for a long time and it is an honor to be here and witness the
beginning of your marriage.
Now it is my solemn obligation as a University
of Dallas Drama Major to quote at least a few lines of Shakespeare -
"Honor, riches, marriage blessing,
Love continuance, and increasing,
Hourly joys be still upon you!
Juno sings her blessings on you."
—The Tempest, Act IV
To the bride and groom!
Toast by Elizabeth LaFrance Read By Rachel Polzer
Elizabeth LaFrance wrote this, but could not be at the wedding.
My dear Elizabeth Herrera, congratulations on your wedding. I'll be praying for you and John Paul every chance I get tomorrow. From when you first called me with "news" that you were going on a DATE with a BOY, yours and JPs has been such a beautiful journey - a testament to the simple and sure form love can take. I will forever be grateful you are marrying a man who so surely will take care of and love you forever - and keep the fiery zest for life you have burning strong all the days of your lives. With you in spirit now with all my love. Tomorrow may make you a Sebastian, but you'll always be Herrera to me 💜
Toast by Kerry Kennedy