By Laura Vallejo
TOOELE, Utah — In the 55 years since Rosita and Sabino Arreola started their journey together as a married couple, they have seen the truth of the Catholic teaching that the sacrament of marriage is “a covenant, which is more than a contract.”
“Covenant always expresses a relationship between persons. The marriage covenant refers to the relationship between the husband and wife, a permanent union of persons capable of knowing and loving each other and God,” as the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults states.
For the Arreolas, faith has been an important part of their marriage, which has had many challenges as well as many joys.
The couple married on May 15, 1969, in Guapango, a very small town in Guanajuato, Mexico.
“Our wedding was a very humble one,” Rosita recalled in an interview with the Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City’s diocesan newspaper. “My mother made me my dress, and we didn’t have a big banquet or party, but we were very happy because we were getting God’s blessing in and for our marriage.”
Being a humble family, Sabino worked in the fields and Rosita was in charge of their home. The financial situation was very harsh, so when the opportunity to make a better living for his family came knocking on their door, Sabino took it. In the ’80s, he migrated to the United States, leaving Rosita and their six children behind.
“It was very hard for me to be without him, taking care of our kids, and missing him every day,” Rosita said, adding that each day she put everything in God’s hands.
Finally, 30 years ago, they were reunited.
“When we finally were all together, my children and I were very happy to have Sabino back in our lives,” Rosita said.
In 2004, the Arreolas started participating in the Hispanic Marriage Encounter in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Although Rosita has been facing some health challenges, they continue to participate as much as they can with Marriage Encounter and in their parish, St. Marguerite in Tooele.
“We have kept on learning in the church and in and for our marriage, and that has been very important for us,” Rosita said, adding that having God as the center of their family “has been very important because it has given us the opportunity to give the witness of our marriage to others.”
Through the years, whenever the Arreolas have had the opportunity to help a couple by sharing their life story, they do it.
“When we need to share our story, we do and we love to do it,” Rosita said. “For 11 years we lived very happily, then he had to immigrate and we were by ourselves. We struggled, and I was basically a single mother of six with very limited resources, … but then, thanks to God and Our Lady, we were able to be reunited, and now we know that trusting in God and having him as the pillar of our family has been what kept us together through it all.”
With all the misinformation and lack of commitment that people have nowadays, married couples tend to not overcome the struggles they face and instead get divorced or abandon their families, the Arreolas said.
“People need to commit. … We have lived through it all, and with God’s help we are together,” Rosita said.
One day someone asked her if she had the opportunity to change her life, would she marry Sabino again. The answer came five years ago when they celebrated their 50th marriage anniversary.
“I said, ‘See, I would do it again and again. I wouldn’t change anything that we have lived.’ … For me it’s a great satisfaction that we are able to share our life testimony and, with it, help couples to stay together,” Rosita said.
The couple now have 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“I always pray and say thank you to God for what we have and we are,” Rosita added.
The Arreolas are “an example for all,” said Roberto Mercado, who is in charge of the Hispanic Marriage Encounter in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.