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A Heavenly Matchmaker

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By Hope Ponsart Hansen

Have you ever turned to St. Anthony to find a person? Saint Anthony, that 13th century friar of the Franciscan Order, is known the world over as the patron saint for the recovery of lost items, but he is also credited with many miracles involving lost people and even spiritual goods.

You don't have to convince Dennis Neuberger. Dennis credits St. Anthony for helping him find the love of his life.

Dennis grew up in Queens, New York. When his father died suddenly, Dennis became the head of the household. He was only 15 years old at the time. To help support his mother and younger brother, he worked during the day as a messenger. At night, he worked on his high school studies so he could graduate.

At 20, he was offered a job at IBM. His career was taking off. Fast forward seven years: Life was good, but something was missing. Some one was missing — someone to share his life with. Dennis turned to the one person he thought could best help with this special search.

He began a novena to St. Anthony that would conclude on his feast day, June 13. Several days into the novena, Dennis got up late and had to hurry to get to work on time. As he waited for a train he normally wouldn't take, he ran into an old friend named Rita. As they began catching up, Rita suggested that he meet one of her co-workers, Eileen. Rita told Dennis, "I think you two would be a great match." After a lunch date, Dennis agreed. He knew Eileen was "the one." Way to go, St. Anthony!

One weekend, the pair traveled to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It was Eileen's first trip to the Berkshires, and she loved it. At the time (this was the 1970s), there was a circular glass church on top of a hill. Seeing it, Eileen commented, "Can you imagine having a wedding here?" Dennis took advantage of the lead-in, promptly produced a ring, and proposed!

But wait! Saint Anthony wasn't finished yet. A few days after Dennis and Eileen were engaged, they planned a dinner so their parents could meet. Dennis' mother had never remarried, and Eileen's father had recently become a widower. The two parents hit it off, began dating, and also became engaged! They were married six weeks after Dennis and Eileen walked down the aisle.
"It was wonderfully confusing," Dennis recalls with amusement. "My mother was now also my mother-in-law! I had 40 great years with Eileen. Saint Anthony could not have blessed me in a better way."

After Eileen's death from cancer in 2015, Dennis began searching for the glass church where he proposed. Turns out it was gone, but Dennis discovered instead the Marian Fathers and the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Now the love that Dennis found and shared with Eileen lives on through a living tribute on Eden Hill. Dennis was one of the first to secure a granite stone at the base of one of the sugar maples that line the drive. It reads "Eileen and Dennis Neuberger — Love and Peace."

If you would like to honor someone you love, living or deceased, please consider sponsoring a tree, a unique and beautiful tribute that will grow and change with the Berkshire seasons.

Hope Ponsart Hansen is a donor relations officer for the Marian Fathers. Contact her at (413) 298-1387; [email protected]; or Association of Marian Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263. Visit marian.org/PlannedGiving to learn more.

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