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A nun and a monk fell in love, quit their monastic lives and got married

Instant chemistry led to a complete life change.

nun and friar marry

"Love can make a sacrament of everything you do.”

As the saying goes, the heart wants what it wants.

On Jan 2, BBC News shared the most unlikely love story—between a nun and a priest whose instant connection inspired them to leave behind celibacy and instead spend the rest of their lives together.

Lisa Tinkler became a nun at the age of 19, moving from her hometown in Middlesbrough, England, to serve a Roman Catholic convent in Lancashire as Sister Mary Elizabeth.

For 24 years, Sister Mary Elizabeth lived the life of a carmelite nun, meaning most of her time was spent in silent devotion and in a small enclosure with a barred window known as a “grille.” There, she was mostly closed off from the outside world, only seeing her family a few times a year and always from behind the grille.

Though the hermit lifestyle deeply fulfilled Sister Mary Elizabeth’s “interior world,” a chance encounter would turn it all upside down in such a way that even the least religious among us might call it divine intervention.


On what seemed like any other ordinary day, Sister Mary Elizabeth’s convent had been paid a visit by friar Robert, hailing from a priory in Oxford. Robert would occasionally stop by to say mass, where she would watch his sermons from behind the grille.

Sister Mary Elizabeth and her superior were tasked with providing lunch to the friar, but when the prioress had to take a phone call, the two were in the parlor room together.

Robert was finished eating and still the prioress hadn’t returned. So Sister Mary Elizabeth opened the door to let him out. When she brushed up against his sleeve, all bets were off.

"I just felt a chemistry there, something, and I was a bit embarrassed. And I thought, gosh, did he feel that too. And as I let him out the door it was quite awkward,” she told the BBC.
nun and preist marry

Lisa Tinkler, formerly known as Sister Mary Elizabeth.

​BBC News/Instagram

It seems that the feeling was indeed mutual—for only a week later, she received a message from Robert asking her to marry him.

Though elated, Sister Mary Elizabeth admitted she found the proposal shocking, as the two knew so little about each other. She had at least caught snippets of Robert’s life through his sermons, like growing up in Poland near the German border and his love of mountains.

Robert, on the other hand, knew nothing about her. “I wore a veil so he never even saw my hair color. He knew nothing about me really, nothing about my upbringing. He didn't even know my worldly name," she recalled.

Unsure of what to do, Sister Mary Elizabeth reached out to her superior, who was … perhaps less than supportive, causing her to walk away from the convent for good and choose instead to go meet Robert at a pub that evening.

"The prioress was a little bit snappy with me, so I put my pants and a toothbrush in a bag and I walked out, and I never went back as Sister Mary Elizabeth," the former nun, now Lisa, told the BBC.

nun priest marriage

Friar Robert.

BBC News/Instagram

The decision wasn’t an easy one. Becoming a nun had felt like a divine calling for Lisa, and leaving it all behind created inner turmoil. She even admitted having momentary suicidal thoughts.

Robert, who had been a Carmelite friar for 13 years, was having his own existential dilemma. Theology gave his life meaning after a dark period brought on by a former failed relationship. So when Lisa showed up at the pub that night, he was “paralyzed by fear.” Not for questioning his feelings for her, or for guilt over turning away from friendship, but because he was unsure of how to make such a huge life change.

Still, the couple courageously moved forward and eventually got married. The two left behind their former monastic lives in November 2015 and now share a home in North Yorkshire. Robert works as the vicar of their local church and Lisa became a hospital chaplain. Sharing books—and a few cries together—helped them ease through the transition.

Though Robert and Lisa anticipated their love would in some way change a core part of their identity, it has instead strengthened their faith. As Lisa put it, they discovered that “love can make a sacrament of everything you do.”

bbc news

Love shows up when we least expect it.

BBC News/Instagram

Even if you're not the religious type, it’s hard to deny that love seems to have a mind of its own, moving us to do things that we otherwise would never dream of. While Robert and Lisa’s story is quite unique, great things can happen to all of us when we follow our hearts.

Planet

Easy (and free!) ways to save the ocean

The ocean is the heart of our planet. It needs our help to be healthy.

Ocean Wise

Volunteers at a local shoreline cleanup

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The ocean covers over 71% of the Earth’s surface and serves as our planet’s heart. Ocean currents circulate vital heat, moisture, and nutrients around the globe to influence and regulate our climate, similar to the human circulatory system. Cool, right?

Our ocean systems provide us with everything from fresh oxygen to fresh food. We need it to survive and thrive—and when the ocean struggles to function healthfully, the whole world is affected.

Pollution, overfishing, and climate change are the three biggest challenges preventing the ocean from doing its job, and it needs our help now more than ever. Humans created the problem; now humans are responsible for solving it.

#BeOceanWise is a global rallying cry to do what you can for the ocean, because we need the ocean and the ocean needs us. If you’re wondering how—or if—you can make a difference, the answer is a resounding YES. There are a myriad of ways you can help, even if you don’t live near a body of water. For example, you can focus on reducing the amount of plastic you purchase for yourself or your family.

Another easy way to help clean up our oceans is to be aware of what’s known as the “dirty dozen.” Every year, scientists release an updated list of the most-found litter scattered along shorelines. The biggest culprit? Single-use beverage and food items such as foam cups, straws, bottle caps, and cigarette butts. If you can’t cut single-use plastic out of your life completely, we understand. Just make sure to correctly recycle plastic when you are finished using it. A staggering 3 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone recycled!

The 2022 "Dirty Dozen" ListOcean Wise

If you live near a shoreline, help clean it up! Organize or join an effort to take action and make a positive impact in your community alongside your friends, family, or colleagues. You can also tag @oceanwise on social if you spot a beach that needs some love. The location will be added to Ocean Wise’s system so you can submit data on the litter found during future Shoreline Cleanups. This data helps Ocean Wise work with businesses and governments to stop plastic pollution at its source. In Canada, Ocean Wise data helped inform a federal ban on unnecessary single-use plastics. Small but important actions like these greatly help reduce the litter that ends up in our ocean.

Ocean Wise, a conservation organization on a mission to restore and protect our oceans, is focused on empowering and educating everyone from individuals to governments on how to protect our waters. They are making conservation happen through five big initiatives: monitoring and protecting whales, fighting climate change and restoring biodiversity, innovating for a plastic-free ocean, protecting and restoring fish stocks, and finally, educating and empowering youth. The non-profit believes that in order to rebuild a resilient and vibrant ocean within the next ten years, everyone needs to take action.

Become an Ocean Wise ally and share your knowledge with others. The more people who know how badly the ocean needs our help, the better! Now is a great time to commit to being a part of something bigger and get our oceans healthy again.

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See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.

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Now, imagine stepping into a vibrant world where such moments aren't just once-in-a-lifetime experiences but a regular joy. This is where Vivid Seats steps in, a gateway to not just witness but truly live these awe-inspiring moments. With a remarkable array of events and a seamless journey from choosing an event to stepping into the venue, Vivid Seats promises not just tickets but keys to unforgettable experiences, opening doors to a world where every fan finds their heart's desire. Vivid Seats crafts memories that are as vivid as life itself!

Discover a World of Events with Vivid Seats

Imagine having a golden ticket that unlocks a world where the music of your favorite band resonates and NFL action unfolds right before your eyes. At Vivid Seats, we turn this dream into reality, offering access to over a million unique events. It's not just a ticket; it's your passport to unforgettable experiences!

Navigating this vast array of events is a breeze with Vivid Seats. Our platform is designed with you in mind, making it easy to find and book the events you love. With a user-friendly interface and exciting features, we ensure your journey from choosing to attending an event is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

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Diving into the whirlwind of live events is now a breeze with Vivid Seats by your side. They have a rock-solid 100% buyer guarantee. It promises you valid and authentic tickets every time, wiping away those nagging worries about online ticket purchases. And the transactions are 100% safe, keeping your precious information secured. It doesn't end there! In case you stumble upon any hitches, there's a friendly team ready to assist you and ensure your journey is a smooth one.

But Vivid Seats is not just a ticket provider; it's your go-to source for the latest buzz in the entertainment sphere. Whether you're into foot-tapping Latin beats, thrilling touchdowns, or sensational pop concerts, the Vivid Seats blog is your treasure trove of information. It keeps you in the loop with the freshest updates on tour dates, NFL schedules, and much more, ensuring you're always ahead in planning your next vivacious outing.

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But hold on, the fun doesn't stop there! You see, the more you dive into these live experiences, the higher you climb up the loyalty ladder. Starting as a 'Fan', where birthday treats await, you could escalate to a 'Rising Star' with two years of reward credit validity. Pump up the game to be a 'Super Fan' and see your credits last for three glorious years. And for the true aficionados, the 'Icon' level unfolds with a splendid four-year span to use your credits and enjoy surprise upgrades.

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With Vivid Seats, you get to be part of a thriving community where every live event becomes a canvas of colorful and shared experiences. You don't just watch from afar; you dive in!

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