José Cabral de Melo and Irene Wenceslau do Prado e Melo have been married for 61 years.  (Photo: Personal archive)

José and Irene got together after 3 meetings and say that through faith and struggle they reached 83 happy years

José Cabral de Melo and Irene Wenceslau do Prado e Melo have been married for 61 years. (Photo: Personal archive)

After three meetings, José Cabral de Melo and Irene Wenceslau do Prado e Melo got married and, since then, 61 years of stories built together have passed. Today, at the age of 83, the two summarize that from learning to love each other to caring for the dead, everything in the pastors’ trajectory was done through a lot of faith and struggle.

Like many couples who celebrate a life together, José and Irene say that life was not a fairy tale, but that with adjustments everything worked out. “We have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are a blessing from God. Of course, life has arguments, scars, but today I feel fulfilled”, summarizes José.

Recalling how the whole story began, José explains that as a child he left his hometown in Paraíba and, on the other side of the country, found Irene. “I moved to Paraná to work with part of Irene’s family, but I didn’t know her at the time. It wasn’t until years after I was there that we met at a wedding,” he says.

When they saw each other for the first time, there was nothing like love at first sight, so much so that they only met again a long time later. In the meantime, Irene’s relatives who lived with José still tried to arrange another marriage for him.

José and Irene got married still young after three dates.  (Photo: Personal archive)
José and Irene got married still young after three dates. (Photo: Personal archive)
After moving to Mato Grosso, they began to work as shepherds.  (Photo: Personal archive)
After moving to Mato Grosso, they began to work as shepherds. (Photo: Personal archive)

“They wanted me to marry her cousin and we even dated for a while, but it was that relationship that didn’t work out”, recalls José. With the first attempt at marriage having failed to take its course, Irene’s family then decided that the ideal would be for her to marry him.

About the whole plot, Irene says that all this was obvious at that time, since marriages were still made that way. “We couldn’t choose who we were going to marry and if the family said we were going, then that was it. Then we started working to get closer”, she narrates.

The two met twice more after the wedding, and the last time, José already had a ring in his hands to make the request. “One was from the north and the other was from the south, so of course it wasn’t easy, but with God’s blessing everything went ahead. If I said something bad, I apologized and the same way it was with her. That’s how it is today”, José comments.

Since then, the two started working together, lived in four different states and worked as traders until they reached the life of shepherds. The husband reports that after they got married, they still lived in the rural area, but later found themselves in the sales business.

“I was a peddler, I traveled all over Paraná selling clothes until I had to stop in one place. I had a store there, then we went to live in São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso. But it was in Mato Grosso that I started my life as a pastor”, he recalls.

Currently, José and Irene are "retired" pastors.  (Photo: Personal archive)
Currently, José and Irene are “retired” pastors. (Photo: Personal archive)
Part of the family gathered in a church in Campo Grande.  (Photo: Personal archive)
Part of the family gathered in a church in Campo Grande. (Photo: Personal archive)

church life

Members of the Renovated Presbyterian Church, Irene and José say that it all started in Mato Grosso. According to the pastor, he started to build his community little by little and since then he has decided to dedicate himself to church life.

One of the couple’s five children, Miriam Cabral de Melo, says that because her parents lived in rural areas, many of the services ended up being the responsibility of the pastors. “I remember many times my father having to go out with a coffin on top of the belina to go get the body of a faithful because he didn’t have Pax, my mother bathing the dead because the responsibility fell on them”, she says.

Completing the narrative, Irene says that this was just one of the roles that were transferred to them and that neither of them regrets anything. Confirming the testimonies, José comments that everything was done thinking about the biblical teachings in which the family believes so much.

Today, already “retired” from the life of pastors, the two summarize that every part of their lives was dedicated to what they believed in and that when looking at the complete family, they feel that everything went more than right. “One of the examples is my daughter who is here. Miriam became a pastor and her husband also at Graça do Alto Christian Community. Our whole life has been thinking about God, and now hers is too.”

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