by Tom Flanagan
On February 5, in an evening spent laughing down memory lane, Professors Brian and Tara Gareau sat down at Agape Latte to share their love story with a crowd of Boston College students. Prepared with a medley of photographs and anecdotes, the Gareau duo took turns reminiscing on their journey so far. Theirs was not an everyday love story, however, for as the audience quickly learned, the Gareaus are not your everyday couple.
Now distinguished members of the Boston College faculty, Brian and Tara Gareau first met in the late 1990s while working in Honduras for the Peace Corps. Brian was a member of the Peace Corps Masters International Program assigned to the Cerro Guanacaure region, while Tara served as an agricultural extensionist around Reitoca. It did not take long for a mutual interest to spark between them. Both were young, smart, and dedicated postgraduates eager to serve and explore the world around them. When they were eventually separated by their assignments, each “held a torch” for the other.
It would take Hurricane Mitch, one of the most devastating storms in Honduras’ history, to bring the pair back together. In 1998, midway through Brian and Tara’s service assignments, Mitch ravaged the Honduran countryside, taking over 7,000 lives. Speaking to a hushed crowd, Mr. Gareau recounted his wife’s harrowing experience of waiting stranded in a village until finally being rescued by helicopter. Reconnected in recovery, the two volunteers once again fostered a budding romance. Though both returned to their individual assignments to aid in the relief efforts, they did so fully prepared to make their long-distance relationship work.
From then on, the Gareaus tag-teamed their way through the odyssey of their lives. After Honduras, the couple trekked to Patagonia, Washington state, and Santa Cruz before arriving on the Heights. Along the way, the couple married, earned their doctorates, published their research, and had a full complement of children.
Mrs. Gareau spoke of the blessings of marriage and children, as well as the difficulties of distance from friends and family. At one point, Mr. Gareau reminded the students how lucky they were to attend a school with such a strong Catholic identity, for this was far from the case when the Gareaus were continuing their graduate education at state schools.
When the Gareaus opened up to questions, one student asked how their faith has impacted their relationship and vice versa.
“Greatly,” responded Mr. Gareau, explaining how his and his wife’s faith has helped ground them throughout their journey and deepened their bond with each other. From the forests of Honduras to center-stage at Hillside, the Gareaus’ story of the 21st-century Catholic couple reminded students of the power of love in hectic times.
Featured image courtesy of Agape Latte via Facebook