July 20, 2018

‘A team of three’: Young couple finds their love and faith in God form a life-changing combination

Kayci and Matt Mikrut process out of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis after their wedding on Oct. 21, 2017. The couple wanted to be married in the church where their Catholic faith blossomed. (Photo provided courtesy of Jessica Strickland Photography)

Kayci and Matt Mikrut process out of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis after their wedding on Oct. 21, 2017. The couple wanted to be married in the church where their Catholic faith blossomed. (Photo provided courtesy of Jessica Strickland Photography)

By John Shaughnessy

Fourth part in a continuing series
(Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4)

It’s a story of two people finding love—complete with the fun way they met, a memorable proposal and the beautiful commitment they have made.

On another level, the story of Matt and Kayci Mikrut also offers a look into the deep longings that young adults have, and the ways that the Church and the Catholic faith can help fulfill those desires.

So where to start—with the love that binds two people, or the faith that leads to a sense of community, a feeling of belonging and a relationship with God?

For Matt and Kayci, there’s no need to make a choice. Their hope, their belief—as a young married couple of nine months—is that love and faith can thrive side by side, helping both to deepen.

(Related: Inspiring choice for a wedding ‘can change the world’)

The first chapters of their story once again reveal how love supported by faith and faith supported by love form a powerful, life‑changing combination.

Making the connection—love

Matt and Kayci first became aware of each other before a game of flag football in November of 2013. Both were in the early parts of their careers at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters in Indianapolis when Kayci was asked to be a substitute on Matt’s team in the NCAA’s intramural league.

“I was warming up and stretching, and she caught my eye,” recalls Matt, who also caught two touchdown passes from Kayci when she played quarterback during the game.

Their connection grew through their shared passion in sports, with their first date being on a golf course. And Matt began to think she could be “the one” when she enjoyed watching the five Rocky movies depicting the fictional underdog boxer Rocky Balboa from the streets of Philadelphia.

“Anything I wanted to do, she was game for it,” says Matt, now 31. “Everything we’re passionate about, we share.”

Kayci had the feeling of Matt being “the one” after he asked her to visit his family in Washington in the fall of 2014.

“I thought that was quick,” says Kayci, who is 28. “I remember very vividly seeing his mom and sister for the first time and thinking this could be my new family.”

That feeling was confirmed in April of 2015 when Matt told Kayci he loved her.

“The first time he told me he loved me I actually had goose bumps over my whole body.”

Making the connection—faith

Matt began to develop another deeper relationship in his life shortly after he moved to Indianapolis in June of 2013.

Living downtown, he started looking at different Catholic churches in the area. When he walked into St. John the Evangelist Church for the first time, it was during a period in his life when his commitment to the faith of his childhood and youth wasn’t that strong.

Initially, he missed as many Sunday Masses as he made at St. John, and he usually sat in the back of the church at the parish that is well-known for welcoming young adults. One Sunday, after the 8 a.m. Mass, he was approached by Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s pastor.

“Father Rick cornered me,” Matt recalls with a smile. “He started the conversation with interest in me as a person rather than starting a conversation with me as a person of faith. That makes a big difference to people in their twenties.”

Eventually, the conversation between Matt and Father Nagel did turn to Matt’s faith life. He told the priest that he had been given the core foundation of his Catholic faith from his parents, but it wasn’t as deep at that point. It was an experience that Father Nagel could relate to, as he also had a period of distance from his faith as a young adult.

“When he looked at me, I think he saw a piece of himself from 20 years earlier,” Matt says. “He told me the door was always open to me.”

Matt began to enter the doors of St. John more frequently.

“From twice a month to three times a month to every week. I was committed again,” Matt says. “It was 100 percent Father Rick singling me out and making a connection with me.”

Matt then offered that connection to Kayci, who grew up as a Methodist and who attended services inconsistently as a young adult. He invited her to a Mass in 2014.

“I knew he went every week,” Kayci recalls about Matt. “I thought if I’m going to end up with this guy, I should go.”

A time of engagement—love

Matt made all the plans to propose to Kayci on Labor Day weekend of 2016.

It would take place near the Illinois community where Kayci grew up, a community called Orion. It would happen on a golf course, playing the game that had been their first date. It would also involve both their families, a testament to how close they are to them.

On that day, before Kayci and Matt played a round of golf with her father, Matt gave a small box containing the engagement ring to Kayci’s younger brother Royce. Matt asked Royce to secretly put the box in the cup of the 18th hole before they teed off on that last hole of the course—where both families were watching from the clubhouse, ready to join what they hoped would be a celebration.

Royce was also responsible for placing a small sign near the 18th green, a sign that asked the question, “Kayci, will you marry me?”

It all fit into Matt’s plan to offer her the ring immediately after she read the sign. There was just one major hitch.

Kayci—who is both focused and competitive—lined up her putt before Matt could get the engagement ring from the cup.

“I’m sweating,” Matt recalls.

Kayci’s father came to the rescue, distracting his daughter by insisting that she read the sign just off the green, suggesting it was a notice from the golf course.

As Kayci strode toward the sign, Matt retrieved the ring. Then as she read the sign, Matt walked quickly toward her, knelt on one knee behind her and held out the ring in her direction. When Kayci turned to look for Matt, he gazed up at her and repeated the question on the sign.

Kayci’s eyes and face radiated with joy as she answered, “Yes! Of course!”

A time of engagement—faith

Just as there had been one potential major hitch in Matt’s proposal plan, Kayci thought there would be a similar hitch in her desire to join Matt in the Catholic faith.

“My mom is very religious. She’s the one behind our faith,” Kayci notes about growing up in her Methodist family.

So Kayci worried about what her mother would say when she asked, “Mom, would you care if I became Catholic?”

Kayci’s mother immediately gave her blessing.

“Mom was excited to hear that Matt was involved in his faith. She loved that he goes to church every weekend, and that he calls his mom every day.

“It was a no-brainer for me to become Catholic because we were going to raise our family that way.”

Kayci first planned to go through the Church’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program (RCIA) in the fall of 2016, but she delayed that plan as she and Matt focused on their marriage preparation with Father Nagel at St. John.

“We had talked about our values and our future, but we just found out so much more about each other through marriage prep,” Kayci says. “I found out more about the Catholic faith, too. It’s about having that support system that wants you to have a successful marriage. The Catholic Church wants you to have a great life together and be the best person you can be who helps others.”

The marriage preparation complemented the growth of faith they had experienced as a couple.

“We had been going to church together for a full year leading up to our engagement and marriage,” Matt says. “We had been growing in our faith together.”

Making the commitment—love and faith

The growth of their faith together played a major role when Kayci and Matt considered where they wanted to be married.

At first, they talked about getting married in Kayci’s hometown in Illinois. Yet the more they thought about it, Indianapolis became the best choice for them, and so was having the wedding in the Catholic Church, at St. John’s.

“We said our vows in a stunning church, in the presence of God, in the city where we met and fell in love,” Kayci says. “Our relationship blossomed as we began attending church at St. John’s together, and there was never any question that St. John’s was the place for us to begin our life together.”

Both smile as they recall their wedding day on Oct. 21, 2017.

“My favorite part of the day was seeing the joy on the faces of everyone who shared in our special day—from our parents to our siblings and friends. But above all, it was seeing the joy on my wife’s face,” Matt says.

In the months following the wedding, Kayci and Matt turned their focus to her becoming a Catholic through the RCIA program. Matt served as Kayci’s sponsor.

Kayci was received into the full communion of the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday earlier this year. The depth of what the Church could add to her life flowed through her that night.

“On our wedding day, we had the support of our family and friends,” she says. “On that night, we also had a lot of support from strangers.”

That sense of belonging and sharing is what young adults are seeking in their lives, the couple says.

“We both moved here from different cities,” Kayci says. “We were looking to build a community. I have my gym, my flag football. The Church offers us another community. We’ve met some great people through RCIA. It’s not easy to meet friends in a new place at this age. It’s also advantageous to have a social outlet at Church as well. Our RCIA group has formed into a little family.”

Kayci needed that extra layer of “family” from their RCIA group and others in the parish when her grandfather died in January.

“Having this level of faith and the support of the community meant so much to me.”

‘A team of three’

Reflecting on all those moments of love and faith, Matt describes the nearly five years since their paths first crossed on a football field as “an incredible journey thus far.”

“It comes as no surprise that as our love has grown, so has our relationship with God,” he says. “I can’t imagine going on this journey with anyone else. The rest of the journey is unknown, which can be intimidating, but knowing that I get to do it with my wife and with the guidance of God is all that matters.”

Kayci marvels at how much their world has changed since they were teammates on that flag football team.

“After being married at St. John’s and going through RCIA together as I became Catholic, God is at the center of our lives,” she says. “Together, we make a team of three. Having that strength in God and in my husband has completely changed my life forever.” †

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