Wait on Him: Anne and Zachary Skelton
Pope Francis wrote his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) five years ago. The document celebrates families and addresses the complexities and realities of family life at all stages.
He wrote, “Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as the result of a great, shared effort.”
The Skelton family of Wichita Falls can attest to the truth of that statement. Initially attracted to each other’s vibrant faith, they married and started a family. Together, they face the trials and joys of raising children.
The Holy Father has declared an “Amoris Laetitia Family” year, which will conclude on June 26.
In honor of the Year of the Family, the NTC is expanding its regular feature, The Domestic Church, to explore how local families live with faith and love.
WHERE DID WE MEET?
Was it the cardboard boat race? Or homecoming festivities? Zachary and Anne Skelton aren’t certain, but they know they met through the Catholic Campus Center at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
A FAITH HOME:
Anne grew up attending Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster and was an altar server, the youth representative on the parish board, and a charter member of the youth group.
She became involved with Midwestern’s CCC even before she matriculated because she wanted a place to grow in faith and friendships.
THE LONGER PATH:
As a football player, Zachary’s time was filled with the demands of athletics and the rigors of engineering studies. Back pain eventually caused him to retire from football, reexamine his priorities, and “get his life on track.” His new goals included internships, reading the entire Bible, and getting confirmed.
Fearing Catholic students might be judgmental, he was initially reluctant to attend CCC events. He quickly overcame it. “It was nice to be accepted and start doing more things to bring me closer to God and God-loving people,” he said.
THE RIGHT LOOK:
Anne noticed him reading the Bible, and Zachary noticed her praying intently during Adoration.
Both thought, “That’s a quality I want in a spouse.”
The couple dated for a period and Zachary, now graduated and employed, considered proposing marriage.
One day when she was at his house, he slipped alone into another room, knelt down, and prayed, “God, I know we’re not supposed to test you, but if you want to give me a sign saying that this is the woman you want me to be with, could you make it a pretty obvious sign?”
When he opened his eyes, she was kneeling in prayer next to him.
They married on August 17, 2013, at Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster. “With half the town at the wedding,” joked Zachary.
ALL FOR ONE:
Between their second and third child, Anne earned a master’s degree in social work at University of Texas at Arlington.
“We knew it was going to be an intense year of studying where I was going to be locked in a room every night and not helping him out,” Anne recalled.
Zachary added, “There were some tough times when she felt like she wasn’t pulling her weight, but I kept telling her, ‘You’re doing it for the family.’”
CENTER OF MASS:
The Skeltons attend Mass as a family each Sunday, even though young children can’t always be quiet for an hour.
Anne said, “There have been instances when kids are loud at church...but you’re trying to teach your children. The kids need to be in church. Everybody should want to have kids in church.”
Zachary is a lector, which provides two benefits to their children. First, it demonstrates the importance of participating in Mass. Secondly, he practices the readings ahead of time in front of the children and explains the meaning of the passage.
Three children make for a lively home, so the couple eats lunch together once or twice a week while the children are at school, giving them a chance to communicate before the day’s activities have left them depleted.
They enjoy doing home renovations together and have replaced floors and put in a patio.
As a family, they enjoy walks, park visits, and playing sports.
PASSING ON THE FAITH:
The parents pray intentionally with the children every day, and they weave God into daily life.
For example, they developed a chart of family rules which includes Bible verses and refers to the Ten Commandments.
“The rules for the family are parallel to God’s rules,” explained Zachary.
WALK THIS WAY:
Anne hopes her children learn that “God is always there” and develop a strong prayer life.
Zachary doesn’t “want them to live their life feeling like they are going around making mistakes. I want them to know that Jesus forgives. But I also want them to know what God expects of them and what Mom and Dad try to live by.”
The couple covers their decisions with prayer, whether choosing a spouse, buying a home, or creating a budget.
Zachary said, “If we just sit back and wait for His timing, it turns out best.”