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Rome Reports

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32 years married, 11 children: “When the third one came, my world collapsed”

This is María and Pablo's introduction – 32 years married, 11 children. One child is a priest, another is a seminarian and another is a Daughter of Charity. Another three are married, and the couple have two grandchildren. As if things weren't complicated enough, they decided to join the whole family in Rome. They were nearly successful – only one daughter couldn't make it. 

“My sister introduced us. Her boyfriend was Pablo's friend, and one day she told me, 'Why don't you come along?' I had never gone out with her. I said 'yes' in order to meet Pablo. We met there and that was that.”

“I liked her from the first moment, and the next day I called her to have a coffee. I didn't know what else to tell her. Since then, in 1982, we have been together – three years dating and 32 years married.”

Pablo is a lawyer and María is a nurse, although the birth of her children caused her to dedicate her time completely to them. In other words, she became nurse, teacher and human resource specialist on a 24-hour schedule. She became a mother. 

“There was a special moment for me. I was traveling to Chicago for work. María had told me the day before that we were expecting the third, and my world collapsed. I thought we weren't able to have three... later we had 11. The key there is dialogue, of knowing in nervous moments to ask for forgiveness, of knowing to make a call, sending a message in the middle of work telling her I love her. I think those details are the key for a woman.”

“For me, it was also key that he gave me my space. My space was 'I take care of the kids, don't get in the way too much.' He wasn't going to be home, so that let me do it kind of my own way. I did go telling him what happened, so he could hear what was going on at home, but if he wasn't there I wasn't going to get overwhelmed or worry.”

There are many lessons María and Pablo can give on family due to an abundance of experience. In the meantime, we'll let them enjoy the Eternal City in St. Peter's Square. Today, the pope held a General Audience. They weren't able to see the Holy Father up close, but maybe they'll try the adventure of coming with the whole family again some day and be able to greet Pope Francis like these people do every Wednesday.