Initially, friendship was the only thing on Elaine McCoy's and Patricia Hanen's minds. Over a year and a half, the pair of Episcopal ministers had become close. Both in their 60s, they had full and colorful careers, previous husbands and families. They talked theology, cooked for each other and went to concerts.
Then, in 2001, Elaine had a realization. She wanted to be more than friends and told Patricia about her feelings. "She blanched," says Elaine. "I thought she was going to say, Oh you silly little girl, why don't you just go away.' But she didn't say that."
Instead, Pat proclaimed, "We have to fast and pray."
After two weeks of nothing but water and broth, they went to the bishop for advice. Eventually, he gave them the go-ahead. "He kind of puts his hands on his stomach and gets Buddha-like and says, Don't not do anything' — the double negative meaning, Go ahead," says Elaine.
Faith is what bonds them. They met when Elaine attended an informational session for potential priests, where Pat — whose 30th anniversary in the priesthood is next year — was leading a group. "Pat had, characteristically, taken her group into an arbor in the garden," says Elaine. "I was just watching this little group, and they were all animated."
As their romance blossomed, Elaine included her four children. "If your mother came to you and said, I'm marrying that woman you've come to know,' it's a little hard," she says. All four, though, have come around.
In their airy Brooklyn Center home, the duo's decades intermingle. "We have whole lives that we've brought together here," says Elaine, 69.
After 14 years together, they married on June 26 in Judge Anthony Russo's courtroom.
"It's not so easy to understand for people who haven't had the experience that God is uniformly and uniquely present all the time," says Pat, 68. "When you find another person who actually understands that, it is an extremely attractive thing."