Nathaniel Auger and Ceandra Nugent, left, have found a common ground in understanding the role of faith in their lives. Right, Joe and Beth Gray come from different faith backgrounds, but have put Christ at their centre. Photos supplied

Faith finds a way to bridge differences

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • March 24, 2021

Ceandra Nugent, 20, and Nathaniel Auger, 21, first met at St. Joseph’s High School in Barrie, Ont., but it was only after working together at a local Tim Hortons that their journey together began. Now dating for five months, the two have a message to share about finding unity within relationships that have differing religious-cultural worldviews. 

Nugent is a practising Catholic, while Auger has an agnostic viewpoint. However, the two explain how their mutual understanding of monotheistic faith was a key element that brought them together, and it continues to bring both happiness. Nugent says praying for Auger and his family has illuminated her prayer life, filling it with meaning.

“That feels nice,” said Auger. “I think that is really sweet of her, because I have a lot of challenges in my life, especially recently, and it’s been a lot to deal with, so meeting her, she’s helped me a lot.”

“He helps me see my worth in who I am and how God’s created me to be,” said Nugent. “He’s very supportive and understanding of where I stand when it comes to my faith and what I practice. He in some ways agrees with what I believe and how I integrate my faith into my life.”

Nugent, studying forensic psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says she sometimes worries how to share her Catholic faith. But Auger, an archeology major at Sudbury’s Laurentian University, has helped her to see how integral it is to understand herself and her faith, especially when in a relationship.

This knowledge of God and self also helps one to respect and love the other. Auger agrees mutual respect and understanding is crucial to a healthy loving relationship, especially where differing religious or cultural views are involved.

“Know where you stand in your own religion but make sure that you support and are still willing to accept the other person,” said Nugent, “Don’t force your religion on them.”

Beth and Joe Gray possess intimate knowledge of sustaining an inter-religious love for the long haul as they celebrate their 45th anniversary this summer. The Grays, feted during a recent Archdiocese of Toronto virtual event celebrating marriage, have journeyed a long way from where they grew up together in New Jersey. They have many wise words to share about love that endures, and how the challenge of differences can be a propulsion towards unity. 

“Those challenges are cultural more than anything else,” said Beth, a Catholic. “Ours has never been an interfaith marriage. We were united in our faith. The rock, the glue that held us together has been our faith in Jesus Christ.”

The two say that because they put Christ at their centre, they can believe God’s hand was over all their struggles and joys. Knowing where they stand in their faith, they also appreciate the cultures and traditions connected with Beth’s Catholicism and Joe’s Jewish background. Because they were dedicated to unity with God and each other, the two wholly grew in love through years of enduring partnership.

“Having two partners who both want to persevere and incorporate each other’s faith and respect each other’s faith will go a long way, but it can come with cultural, societal pressure,” Auger said after hearing about the Grays. “Obviously, with this couple, they had a lot of love, and it’s pretty incredible.”

Joe emphasizes the great importance of discerning your relationships wisely. The key is placing Jesus at the centre, and considering whether the relationship allows, and even encourages, Christ to remain there.

“Be patient and wait on the Lord. There is so much pressure in our culture for people to couple up and to find that right person,” he said.

“Take the time as a single person to dive in deeply into your relationship with Jesus Christ, and then having done that, He’ll lead you, if you are to be married, to the right person.”

(French, 22, has a Bachelor’s of Catholic Studies from Seat of Wisdom College and lives in Barrie, Ont.)

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