The Wedding of Amanda Elizabeth Gallagher and Brian Walter Schweigert
The Wedding of Amanda Elizabeth Gallagher and Brian Walter Schweigert
October 23, 2004 at Grace United Methodist Church, Valley Stream, New York
The teenage boy who patiently abided my abuse on the basketball court, though he could outjump and outshoot me; the same young man who trailed me around the parish house for years doing custodial chores, until he could do them better than I could; the banker who harbors a dream of some day being a schoolteacher like his Mom; that groom took a lovely bride. And I was there to help with the proceedings. And so it came to pass that Brian Walter Schweigert and Amanda Elizabeth Gallagher were united in marriage as Pastor John H. Cole and I held their joined hands in the chancel in front of the prie-dieu.
The wedding party was large, twenty-five up front and dressed in formal attire, including five flower girls, one of them, Brian's niece, Julianna Cook, not quite one but nonetheless walking down the aisle. Her mother, Brian's sister, Stacy Cook, was one of the two matrons of honor. Stacy's husband, Mike, was a groomsman. Brian's longtime buddy, Brian Collins, one of New York's Finest soon tobecome one of New York's Bravest, stood beside his Central High School football teammate, and later, at the reception, delivered a heartfelt toast to thenewlyweds. The bride, a senior purchasing coordinator for Canon, was escorted down the aisle by her parents, Jo-Ann Callahan and James Gallagher. Amanda's brothers, James Gallagher and Brian Callahan, were groomsmen.
The printed program, distributed as guests entered the church, was prepared by the bride. Herewith are pictures, inside and out, of that bulletin:
The ritual was read, the prayers were said, hands were joined, rings were exchanged, the Unity Candle was lit, and the bride and groom embraced with a tender kiss as the congregation applauded. The message to and for the bridal couple of the afternoon follows.
MESSAGE – Lighting Up Your Life
A month or more ago I received one of those appreciative letters that makes being the pastor of souls the best job in the world. It was written by someone you know, and know very well. In it she thanked me for my part in helping one of you, Brian, grow into the good, strong, mature man that you are. And she remembered those chandeliers, up there, hanging by a few wires, lighting up the room with seven or eight incandescent bulbs in each fixture. She remembered them because you and I, Brian, spent the better part of a couple of days changing the bulbs, high atop a shaky scaffold, not really knowing what we were doing, learning as we went, nearly dropping one of the cylinders before we got the knack of it. And you reported to Mom where you had been and what you had done before she ever had a chance to collar me and ask me what on earth (or in mid-air) I thought I was doing with her son.
So here we are, the experts on chandelier maintenance… at your service, John.
Mom’s letter started me thinking, about this service and a way to tell the two of you how to go forward from this uniting moment into the years of love and loyalty ahead of you. A light went off in my head. Of course, that’s what it’s all about (pointing to the chandelier): two people working together to make this world brighter and, in the process, their own lives too.
Marriage as making the world brighter: we do not, cannot, should not, live to ourselves alone. Oh, the intimacy of marriage is a delightful thing. The two of you with each other and for each other will have a wonderful go at this mortal life. You will share, the two of you, your special secrets. You will have together moments of exaltation and poignancy no others will be privy to. That’s as it should be, the way God means it to be for Brian and Amanda.
But God has designed an even larger purpose in marriage, to provide this world with love. For the next generation, of course. You will in time make an excellent Mom and Dad. As you have already as aunt and uncle. Children need the security of the love their parents share. But so does the larger community… need the love enkindled within your marriage. There’s a line in the closing prayer of this service that commissions you: “Go to serve God and your neighbor in all that you do.” Together. For it is from deep within your hearts entwined that God makes a brighter world, where children grow good and strong and faithful; where the institutions (like the church) which hold us together are peopled and affirmed; where the community is suffused with the values of the Gospel, like loving our neighbors as ourselves, and being merciful, and making peace, and upholding justice.
You know, to shed a kindly, generous, and healing light in a world too often darkened by trouble and selfishness.
I mean, that’s what Jesus asked us to do: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Finally, a little more personal word.
You have asked me in this moment to celebrate a soul who brought a lot of light and love into your life, Amanda. Your step-dad, Richard Callahan. How proud he is in this moment looking down on us through one of those windows in the Father’s house.
Brian, I’ve taught you everything I know about waxing floors, fixing fluorescent ballasts, and changing light bulbs in chandeliers. Along the way, I suspect, you’ve picked up a few other pointers that I never intended… like how to throw an elbow on the basketball court. I am as proud of you as your Dad Walter is. You have become a real man, not just smart, but wise, not just strong, but gentle, not just sincere, but genuine. Amanda, here’s y our prize.
And, Brian, here’s yours. Amanda. Soft and thoughtful, devoted and intelligent, cherishing you and with you aiming to make the very best of your life together, that it may be everything God meant marriage to be, even more, maybe, than you hoped it would be.
Hold on to each other, through all of those exigencies the vows consider. And you will be a source, a great good source, of life and love and light to everyone around you.
The wedding party and their guests reassembled ten miles to the east, at Verdi's in Westbury, for the reception. Pictures of that happy gathering follow.
Barbara and I left the reception long before it was over. The drive home would be two and a half hours; and I am approaching my seventy-third birthday. We went, however, well fortified, with roast prime rib of beef dinners packed in plastic and a fine feeling of having helped launch yet another couple on a life journey of love and service.
And where do you think the bridal couple will be spending their honeymoon? Of course, in that place where everything is magical, Disney World. I suspect Brian, who has sailed into the wild blue yonder, on that one hundred fifty foot swing at Six Flags Great Adventure, will be taking his bride up (and down) the Tower of Terror and for ride after ride on the Rock'n' Roller Coaster. Queasy stomach that I have, I am glad, however much I enjoy Orlando et al, I wasn't invited to accompany them.
Sequel: Rylie Elizabeth, May 23, 2006
As if my Junior Highs, once married, should no longer shine in my memory or step out of my prayers! Never. To wit, I present to you photos of the baby born to Brian Schweigert and his bride Amanda, a beautiful sequel to their marriage in October 2004. These have been sent to me by Grandmother, Madelyn Schweigert, and Godmother/Aunt Stacey Schweigert Cook. Rylie was born at 1:06 AM, weighed 7 pounds, and was 20 inches tall.
Sequel II, Grace Lillian Schweigert, February 19, 2008
Amanda and Brian Schweigert welcomed into the world their second child, Grace Lillian, born at North Shore University Hospital on February 19th. She not only bears the name of the church in which her parents were married, she also bears the name of her paternal great-grandmother, Lillian Viemeister. She arrived at 11:49 AM, weighed 6 lbs 4 oz, and was 19 inches tall. Mother, Daddy, and Big Sister Rylie were all doing well.