Meet Cheryl (Scottish) and Cameron (Kiwi) Surrey. They are two very ordinary couple. The way they met, however wasn’t so ordinary.
Cheryl and Cameron (then seminarian) met for the first time in a large event in Sydney called the World Youth Day, where Cheryl was engaged and about to be married to someone in about two years. Delighted to meet a soon-to-be priest, she asked Cameron to be at her wedding.
Fast forward a year later and Cheryl is back in New Zealand for another trip in 2009 before her wedding. Cameron takes Cheryl on tours around the city, embodying the great kiwi hospitality. As they spent more time together, Cheryl began to feel something different. They were just friends. In fact, they weren’t attracted to each other, not emotionally, not physically. They were getting to know each other on a friendship/basic level. So Cameron would pick her up and he would see a church and say ‘hey do you want to go in and see Jesus’ or being in the car and ask ‘hey do you want to say the rosary?’
“And my mind is just like (she makes explosion sound and gestures) … what? I didn’t share my faith with my fiancé at the time. He was baptised catholic but we didn’t share our faith in that way,” said Cheryl.
However that experience and time together made such an impression on Cheryl. She was being invited to pray with a seminarian, something she didn’t do with her fiancé. She said it was a very vulnerable thing to do, but for Cheryl it felt like it was a no brainer to accept these invitations… she would pop in the church with him and pray.
They both laughed at the one-meter distance they kept when they remembered sitting and praying away in church.
“Jesus was always being invited into our friendships, into our conversations, so my mind was like ‘oh my gosh how can I share with this guy that I don’t really know well but I can’t share it with a guy I am planning to marry’. It didn’t make any sense”.
To make sense of it all, Cheryl got in touch with a few friends and one of her spiritual directors from overseas to ask them what she is supposed to do. It was clear that she had to tell Cameron how she felt.
That night they were supposed to go out for dinner with friends, and Cheryl decides it’s time (to tell him).
“I said to Cameron, listen I have something really awkward and kind of embarrassing to say to you but I need to say it… I said I am finding myself being attracted to the fact that we pray together, I don’t know what that means, and he was preparing to ask me ‘you just left your fiancé how does that work?
“But his response to me was ‘well I am in the seminary I am going towards priesthood and you’ve got to sort out what ever discernment you’ve got to sort out with your fiancé that’s your business that’s your thing.”
Cameron was very clear and very direct. Shortly after, while stopping at the red traffic lights, Cheryl had a moment where she felt this weight or burden lift off her shoulders, and she knew that she wasn’t meant to marry her fiancé.
But that wasn’t it. There’s more!
Cameron saw that there was another significant thing that made him stop and take note.
“It was the opening mass at World Youth Day,150 000 people, and at the end of it everyone was getting on buses and all the buses were pretty much going down the main road and then splitting off in different directions. And our accommodation was on the main road and every bus was going past that way… Cheryl had been with some friends and then got separated from them and she’s been trying to find people so she was feeling a bit upset and she felt a bit alone, “Cameron said.
Cheryl picked up the conversation from here.
“So I get on the bus, it felt a bit like New York, a busy area… and I get on the bus and feeling sad, sorry for myself, alone [asking] why am I here. I just had this thought which turned into a prayer which was ‘Lord if you want Cameron to be in my life let me see him tonight’. No sooner had I finished that prayer he stepped on the next stop on to my bus, and I was just said: Cameron!”
Cameron continues just casually “oh Cheryl hey what are they chances”.
Cheryl: “I was like what are you doing here, and he was like ‘I am going back to the accommodation’ and am like of course you are,” she laughed.
This little incident got tucked away at the back of Cheryl’s mind. It happened at World Youth Day in 2008, and didn’t really share it with Cameron until that traffic light incident a year later.
Cheryl said that prayer was not romantic, she didn’t have love feelings for Cameron at the time, however she questioned the whole thing. She’s always trusted and believed in God’s providence.
“I am someone who always believes that somethings happen for a reason. Here’s a guy called Cameron I have met, I’ve just fallen in love with New Zealand, here’s a guy from New Zealand, isn’t that strange. Here’s someone I get on with, he studies theology, we have lots in common, he is easy to speak to,” Cheryl said.
She kept asking why this is, and what does this mean. So, when she told Cameron a year later about this memory Cameron took a moments’ pause. Even though he was clear about the direction he was about to take, and that his intentions were to be a priest, he asked that they pray for nine days, to make a decision whether they should pursue this further.
Find out what happened next below!