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Wyoming couple who faced teen pregnancy are now proud grandparents

Patrick Doherty knew he would marry his high school sweetheart some day. He just didn’t think the wedding would come when she was actually still in high school. Twenty-eight years later, Patrick and Cathy Doherty are happy to tell the story of a teen romance that could have gone very wrong when she became pregnant at age 16. But because of their strong pro-life convictions and their “stubborn love,” they have weathered the storms of early marriage, initial financial uncertainty, two heartbreaking miscarriages and the stress and joy of bringing up seven children.

Their eldest child is 28, married, with two children of his own. Their youngest is 4 years old. So Patrick and Cathy have a long stretch of their own parenting to go as they also enjoy being grandparents.

Three generations of the Doherty family stay close to their Catholic faith.

Three generations of the Doherty family stay close to their Catholic faith.

“Love is a decision and not just an emotion,” said Patrick. “A long time ago, we decided that we loved each other and we have lived up to that. We’ve had some rough patches, but mostly smooth sailing. We’re a good match, and best friends.”

Cathy commented, “We knew early on that love would require self-sacrifice. In both our families, the way we were raised, you got married for life. There was never a question.”

Recalling the shock of being pregnant at 16, and the fact that she knew other girls in her public school who had gotten an abortion, she said, “I was so pro-life. There was never any question of getting an abortion. Let’s say that I was not the first girl in my class to get pregnant, but I was the first to deliver a baby.”

Although they were raised Catholic, the two were married in a civil ceremony six weeks before Cathy gave birth.

After the birth of their second child, Patrick and Cathy were married in the Church before they had their daughter baptized.

Patrick, 47, is beginning his second year as Wyoming State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus, responsible for the operation of the fraternal Order within his state. A Knight since 1986, he worked his way up the ladder within Wyoming, always willing to volunteer for charitable projects or serve in leadership positions. His wife recalled, “At the first meeting he attended, he came home and said that he had volunteered me to do some cooking.”

The Knights of Columbus offers a family-friendly environment that has helped them maintain a social life while bringing up seven children.

“Almost all our close friends are Knights families,” Cathy said. “We bring our kids to the events, and we never worry about who they’re with and what they’re doing. We have a whole council looking out for them.”

“The Knights is all about family and our kids love the Knights also,” Patrick added. “They have friends their age and they go to all the family events. It gives our kids the chance to be around families that share our values and our faith.”

Being with the Knights has also strengthened their faith. “It brought me from being a once a month Catholic, who first got married outside the Church, to a regular Catholic whose faith is the most important part of his life. Serving God and neighbor come first in our family.”

Between their parish and the Knights of Columbus, the Dohertys are prepared to meet the challenges of a secular culture.

“Spiritually and socially, our family has what it needs,” Patrick said.