Moving heaven and earth to get Dad goin’ to a chapel of love

Your unwell father can’t make it to your wedding? Not a problem – bring the wedding to him at his aged care home.

“We wanted Dad involved right from the beginning,” said new bride Katie Beckett. “I think we would have got married in his room if we’d had to.”

Lucky for Katie and her family, staff at dad Warwick’s home at Calvary Ryde, in Sydney, share the same ‘can do’ attitude and worked overtime to help make the historic and happy occasion happen.

The wedding was the first held in the on-site St Margaret’s Chapel in anyone’s living memory and, in a remarkable coincidence, Katie’s nuptials were officiated by retired priest, Monsignor Kerry Bayada, the same priest who married her parents more than 50 years ago and who now lives in retirement at Calvary Ryde.

an aisle in a chapel covered in flowers

“Thankfully, Calvary supported us by letting us use the chapel in the grounds of the retirement village,” said Katie, who met husband Linton three years ago. “It was a perfect space for us to invite all of our friends and family to witness our marriage, and most importantly ensured Dad was included in our special day.

“Dad means everything to all of us, he is the best dad. We just want him to be happy and safe.”

Warwick has had several health battles over the years and the family knew getting to another venue would be too difficult for him, so they set about bringing the wedding to him.

Getting him to the chapel was a process that started long before the big day, with many practice runs so Warwick felt ready and comfortable on the day. It was also extra motivation for him to push himself and reach some personal goals.

“Elizabeth and the other pastoral carers, along with Dad’s care team, worked endlessly to make sure Dad had the opportunity to attend Mass on Tuesdays leading up to the wedding,” Katie said. “This allowed him to get into a routine of getting out of bed, dressed and travelling down to the chapel, and to become accustomed to the process.

“There was a lot of perseverance. I think it’s a testament to the relationship Elizabeth has with Dad that they were able to do it.”

Other residents at the home also got to be a part of the day, watching the wedding live-streamed, as well as raising a glass at a special reception held at the home afterwards for the happy couple and proud parents Warwick and Helen.

“Elizabeth wanted to create a party for the residents so that they could be a part of it too and enjoy the experience of a wedding again.”

Just as they had decorated the chapel, Katie and her family catered, provided the bubbly and flowers, and her sister baked a wedding cake to share.

a photo of a limo outside an aged care home

Although they later attended their main reception, the mini-event was important to Katie too. “Dad was able to celebrate. The boys (her brothers) were able to have a beer with him, and we got to have a glass of champagne.

But it was more about creating something for other people,’ said Katie, mirroring Calvary’s own ethos of ‘being for others’.

“It was the all-round special day that we always hoped for. It was all just meant to be.

“It was amazing to have Monsignor Bayada officiate, and it was so special knowing that he actually married my parents back in 1970! The bonus is that Dad now attends Mass with Monsignor Bayada each Tuesday, which he enjoys very much.

“I am so very thankful to all those who helped in making this happen and to everyone who assisted Dad in the lead up. We will all be forever grateful for making this possible.

“Our wedding day was the perfect day, and we were so lucky to be able to get married with Dad there, happy and relaxed and well supported.

“It means a lot.”