Culture crush: Mark and Laura Krasij share a common Catholic faith
With a Polish mother and a Ukrainian father, Mark Krasij never dreamed he’d be married to a woman from Colombia. But God and their common Catholic faith brought them together.
Now married two years and parents to Andrij, they have experienced the “exercise of mutual love, an interplay of give and take, for the good of the family,” as described by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which was issued five years ago.
The document addresses the complexities and realities of family life at all stages. To couples like Mark and Laura, he writes, “Young love needs to keep dancing towards the future with immense hope.... Hope also bids us live fully in the present, giving our all to the life of the family, for the best way to prepare a solid future is to live well in the present.”
The Holy Father has announced an “Amoris Laetitia Family” year, so the NTC is expanding its regular feature The Domestic Church to explore how local families live with faith and love.
CULTURE CLUB: Laura moved to Texas from Colombia when she was nine, and Mark grew up in Connecticut with a Polish mother and a Ukrainian father. Although their heritage derives from different continents, Laura said the common experience of growing up in close-knit immigrant families unites them.
THE BEGINNING: The couple met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Despite their extended conversation, they did not exchange numbers, so Mark found her on social media afterwards. Their first date was to Mass at St. Sophia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in The Colony, where Mark plays the bandura, a traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument.
COME TOGETHER: Mark said, “In a country like this, where everyone’s from so many different places, it seems like it’s part of a big design. How can you bring different cultures together? Catholicism works in every culture. It brings so many people together that you wouldn’t expect… next thing you know, I have a Colombian wife.”
PRE-WEDDING JITTERS: After dating for five years, they were engaged on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2019.
Mark admitted to being apprehensive in the weeks leading up to the wedding. “It’s an entirely momentous decision. As a Catholic, there’s no going back; you have to go forward, just do your best, and build and build and build. It will probably take you in directions you weren’t expecting.”
MARRIED: On October 18, 2019, at St. Sophia with four priests in attendance. The wedding incorporated elements of both families’ heritage in the food, the attire, and the music.
TWO SHALL BECOME ONE: Marriage, followed 11 months later by a baby, was a big adjustment for the couple, who married when Mark was 41 and Laura was 34. Mark used to devote hours to playing the bandura and soccer, but now “our lives revolve around [Andrij’s] schedule,” admitted Laura, who said the baby is “God’s gift to us.”
AND BABY MAKES THREE: Laura is the coordinator of children’s faith formation at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, and Mark is a senior lecturer in mathematics at University of Texas at Arlington. Thus far, they have been able to coordinate their schedules so that one of them can be home with their son.
BABY LESSONS: Laura said being a parent has taught her patience and forgiveness. Even on a bad day, her son greets her with a smile and open arms. “That’s how God’s love is for us. He’s always there with open arms.”
As a new parent, Mark has learned, “There’s your time and there’s God’s time. There’s your plan and there’s God’s plan…. Better to trust in the One who knows everything than in your own limited knowledge.”
BRINGING UP BABY: Mark said he wants his son to know that “God exists. I want him to come to that conclusion on his own, to reason through it. There’s a moral order to the universe and it comes from Him; there’s certain obligations that you have to other people and to yourself and it comes from Him. You need to take care of yourself, love yourself, and have respect for others. He created them, too. You have a certain dignity as a human being that comes from God, so hold onto that.”
Laura wants Andrij “to know that there’s a God, to trust and love Him. To know that He’s always there for him. To know that how much he loves Him, He loves him even more. And to always trust his life to Him and follow His example.”
FIRST THINGS: Laura said, “it doesn’t matter how strong your faith is, in all relationships there’s always going to be ups and downs. But if you put God first, He will always bring you back to the main source, which is the family. He is our Father, and He created the family for a reason.”
CATHOLIC CONNECTION: The couple grew up worshiping in different rites of the Catholic Church, but both are committed, faithful Catholics.
Mark, a mathematician, appreciates “the reasoned outlook [of the Catholic faith], where everything is rational and there’s no objection to science…. Having the theological perspective with the scientific perspective makes your intellectual experience that much more deep,” he said.
He also values the Church’s “direct link to Christ Himself and the Apostles.”
Laura appreciates the saints, and she is inspired by Catholic mission work to relieve suffering in impoverished areas.
However, she added, “I think the biggest thing in our faith is the Eucharist, where we’re receiving truly the Body and Blood of Christ.”