This week’s Catholic New Media Conference was full of excellent content. I came away better informed, and fired up.

But one of the best things about conferences is the networking opportunity. I met lots of interesting people, one of whom was Tristan McLindon.

I feel like I already knew him. His parents live in Hamilton. His brother lives in Ballarat. And his wife was one of my Sunday School students.

Wait. What? I taught Sunday catechism to Gr 3-6 kids for a few years while I was at university. I really didn’t think that was so long ago, until I learnt these students are now at the marrying age. It sure puts a 32nd birthday into perspective!

It’s worth noting that Tristan is 22 and Veronika is 20. Tristan tells the story of his whirlwind romance and early marriage at MercatorNet. It’s a great story, well-written:

“Hi, I’m Serge. I’m here for a good time.” His smooth, measured voice showed confidence in himself and his new environment. Given the circumstances, that was a very valuable gift to have

It was day one of acting school in New York City. There were fifteen of us sitting in a circle in a small, blank, white room, introducing ourselves and talking about our backgrounds. Usually an exercise like this would be met with hesitation by those asked to participate, but not in acting school. There it’s the opposite. The circle is everyone’s time to shine, time to show you’re funny, quirky, flirty; a chance to prove you’re different from the person sitting next to you.

“Hi, I’m Clara. I’m in America with my boyfriend and following my lifelong dream of acting.”

“I’m Lucia. I’m from Brazil and I sort of have a boyfriend back home but not really.” Serge smirks and looked across the room at her . . .

The guy on my left spoke, “Hi, I’m Muriz. I’m from Germany, I’m here to pursue acting. Oh and maybe meet some nice American girls, but don’t tell my girlfriend at home I said that.” Everyone laughed, and the acting teacher gave him a wink of respect.

It was my turn. How was I going to get on side with the teacher if I wasn’t funny or loose like the others? Luckily I didn’t have time to think, fourteen pairs of eyes were trained on me, waiting for me to speak, so I did just that.

“Hi, I’m Tristan. I’m twenty-one, I’m from Australia and I got engaged the day before I flew here.” There was silence in the room, a stunned, unnerving pause. I resigned myself to the fact I was going to be the odd one out — that weird engaged guy. A few more anxious moments passed, and then something happened that was so unexpected that I sat there as stunned as they had been by my introduction. Everyone started clapping. They clapped and cheered and individually congratulated me. I don’t think anyone there had heard of someone in their generation getting engaged so young — and, come to think of it, nor had I.

With an intro like that, you want to read it all right? Here’s the link.

Then you can read Veronika’s story too.

(Incidentally, if you follow both links, you can make a “before” and “after” comparison of MercatorNet‘s website renovation, which is currently underway. The new look is great, and worthy of such a fine news and opinion source.)