Married couple senior Madeline “Maddie” (Alvarez) Schnieders and alumnus Cole Schnieders ’21 were set on two unique paths after high school. Maddie entered the Catholic California convent, Servants of Mary Ministers to the Sick, and Cole began the process of seminary through the St. Joseph’s House of Formation in the Diocese of Wichita.
But when the two independently discerned out of religious vocations, they landed at Newman University, where God’s plan for them began to unfold.
At the heart of it all
St. John’s Chapel happens to be where the two shared their first kiss as a dating couple, as well as their first kiss as husband and wife.
“For me, I think the best part of the wedding was just walking down the aisle and seeing Cole at the end,” Maddie said. “We had worked so hard to get there. Planning everything was so stressful and it was like — ‘this is the moment.’”
Cole’s described his favorite memory from the special day as an “earthquake, life-changing, lightning bolt moment.”
“It was right after we exchanged vows and rings, and we were fully married in the Catholic Church,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is my wife next to me.’ And then we both knelt down and the Mass went on, the Mass being the reason we’re here at all. And I continued to feel all the aftershocks throughout Mass, the reception, our very brief honeymoon — this is my life. I’m in my vocation and it’s time to live it fully.”
Bonded by faith
Though both Maddie and Cole discerned out of the religious life, their Catholic faith has played a foundational role throughout their entire relationship. While dating, the two regularly attended Mass, Adoration and even prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together — a practice Maddie developed during her time at the convent, Cole through seminary.
“One thing that’s been really good for both of us is how we experience our relationship with God,” Cole said. “We see God very differently, but I think it’s a strength to see God in two different perspectives and what it means to be a Catholic. When we talk about God, there are times when I think ‘I’ve never seen God that way, maybe I should.’”
He added, “Maddie makes me want to be a better Catholic and has pushed me to have a real relationship with God if I’m going to have a real relationship with her.”
“When Cole and I connected, it was what I always wanted,” Maddie said. “We could talk about us both being at the convent or seminary, theater, musicals and all that. He’s my friend and my partner as well.”
A love story for the books
According to Maddie, the English professors at Newman played a major role in bringing her and Cole together.
“Dr. (Bryan) Dietrich pulled me into the English program, which Cole was already a part of,” Maddie said. “The day before our first date, Dr. (Susan) Crane-Laracuente had tickets for whoever could write the best haiku to see a Madcap murder mystery, so that was the first time we got to hang out one-on-one. Dr. (Marguerite) Regan also taught a class called ‘The Art and Craft and Happiness’ and encouraged students to invite significant others.”
The two had also traveled with a group of Newman students to attend the 2019 Nimrod Writing Conference, where they got to know each other even better.
Cole jokingly said that their relationship was “strained, tested and strengthened the most” in the editing room of The Vantage student newspaper.
“I was her copy editor while she was editor-in-chief, so many nights we would be there until 2 or 3 a.m.,” Cole said. “We’ve also grown a lot through our writing, reading and editing each others’ stuff.”
“Newman kept the bond strong, I guess,” Maddie said with a smile.