As Bishop Thomas John Paprocki remarked at the beginning of the Mass for Couples Married 50 Years or More, the afternoon of the first full day of autumn was beautiful both outside and inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. It was a joyful day, he said, not just because the weather was near perfect on Sept. 23 but also inside the church hundreds of people were there to celebrate the beauty of long marriages.
A great number of the couples taking part were married in 1968 and celebrating their golden wedding anniversary this year, but some had been married much longer. Moreover, many of the couples came to the Mass with family members, who were there to celebrate with them. During the Mass the couples renewed their commitment to marriage and received a special blessing from Bishop Paprocki.
With his homily, Bishop Paprocki reflected on the importance of the sacrament of marriage. “Those of us who are gathered here today need to look no further than the couples in our midst who have been married 50 years or more for an example of the sort of self-sacrifice for the good of others to which our Lord calls us as his disciples,” he said. “Throughout the half of a century or more that these husbands and wives have been married, time and again they have been called to set aside their own personal interests for the sake of their spouse as well as their family. In doing so, they have also learned to serve those around them as well.”
As he continued his homily, he said, “As we reflect upon the great gift of the sacrament of matrimony and the place it holds in our living as Christ’s disciples in the midst of the world today, let us ask our Lord to strengthen the resolve of these couples to fulfill his call for them to serve each other and all of those around them. To you, dear married couples we honor today, I invite you to continue to teach others what it means to give of yourself to those around you through the example of your lives. If you do, you will most certainly help others to do the same and lead them to a deeper understanding of what it means to be Christ’s disciple today.”
Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Paprocki were Msgr. David Hoefler, vicar general, Father Daren Zehnle and Father Steve Arisman. Deacons were Deacon Larry Smith and Deacon Scott Keen, both who serve at Cathedral Parish. Readers were Carlos Tejeda, director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life and Ruth Staab, Cathedral parishioner and employee at the Catholic Pastoral Center. Patrick Hutt was master of ceremonies. Gift-bearers were David and Susan Ohnemus from St. Peter Parish in Quincy.
Adding to the liturgy was the music of Mark Gifford and the Choral Department of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and Director Damien Kaplan. The Mass and reception that followed were hosted by the Office for Marriage and Family Life. The celebration was made possible and was funded by the contributions of people of the diocese to the Annual Catholic Services Appeal.