Ready for a Lasallian life together, Patrick ’07 and Rachel Mecca ’09, ’10 married last year and road-tripped across the country on their honeymoon.
When a mutual friend introduced Patrick Mecca ’07 and Rachel (Pong) ’09, ’10 in high school, Patrick asked the first, obvious question.
“So you’re so-and-so’s friend?”
“No, you are,” Rachel replied.
The innocent jibe was the first seed of friendship, which blossomed into a relationship a year later, and continued to grow in Riverdale when they attended Manhattan College together.
Both part of Lasallian Collegians at Manhattan, Patrick and Rachel participated in food runs around the area, volunteered at Children’s Village and walked in Relay for Life every year.
“We both have the same type of drive to help our local communities and do something we feel strongly about,” Rachel says.
The two also felt strongly about getting married in a Catholic church someday, so they attended Sunday Mass, retreats and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes run through Campus Ministry and Social Action. When they completed the program, they received the sacrament of confirmation together.
On weekends, the pair took advantage of all the city had to offer, attending free concerts in Central Park, exploring old record shops and trying new cuisines in Greenwich Village.
In 2007, Patrick graduated and moved to Racine, Wis., to begin a year of service teaching fifth grade as a Lasallian Volunteer.
“I highly recommend the Lasallian Volunteer program to anyone who is looking for professional development and community service opportunities in a really supportive, faith-based setting,” Patrick says.
Although the long-distance relationship was tough at times, the two spent their weeks between visits writing letters, sending care packages and swapping stories on the phone.
“His experience as a Lasallian Volunteer was integral to who we both are today and strengthened our relationship in many ways,” Rachel says.
In August of 2012, exactly nine years to the day of their first date, the couple completed another sacrament together and wed in Carmel, Calif., joined by their siblings.
The on-the-go couple traded a traditional honeymoon for a road trip back across the country — stopping along the way to tour a monastery in Big Sur, bike through the Grand Canyon and dine in Las Vegas.
“Being stuck in a car with one another for the majority of a week really teaches you a lot,” Rachel laughs.
Enjoying married life in the Bronx, both Jaspers work with students each day — Patrick as a third grade teacher at PS 163, and Rachel as a financial aid counselor at Manhattan College.
“Manhattan College is like a second home to us,” Patrick says. “Attending together strengthened our relationship, Catholic faith and focused our professional lives.”