On an otherwise dreary and drizzly Sunday afternoon, the sun appropriately came out to shine through the windows of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception just as long-married couples from all over the diocese renewed their commitment to one another.
It was a touching moment for many at the Sept. 8 Mass for Couples Married 50 Years or More, and seemed especially so for Bob and Kathy Kulhan, who traveled to Springfield from Greenville, where they are members of St. Lawrence Parish. “I looked up at my husband and he was crying,” said Kathy after Mass. “Then I got so (flustered) that I couldn’t find what I was supposed to read.
“We celebrated 50 years on Jan. 18 and our three children — Michelle, Bob and Tracy — and their families came home to give us a party,” Kathy said, explaining that two of the families live in other parts of the States and one of their daughters resides in London. The couple, who formerly lived in Rochester and were parishioners at St. Jude Parish, also has four young grandchildren.
The Kulhans were among about 40 of the couples at the Cathedral who were married in 1969. Some of the couples were married much longer and make it a practice to attend the Mass together every September. There were approximately 350 in attendance at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Father Christopher House, Father Donald Wolford and Father Daren Zehnle.
“Today, we keep our focus on relationships because we celebrate today the spousal relationships exemplified by all of you who celebrate 50 or more years of married love,” said Bishop Paprocki. “It is not ironic, but incredibly providential, that Our Lord’s words speak directly to you today because your marriages would have not have survived, much less continued, to sacramentalize the fidelity and fecundity of God’s love for all those years if your love had not first been founded on God’s love and then repeatedly renewed by love of God.”
The annual Mass and reception are arranged by The Office for Marriage and Family Life with the assistance of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate and funded by the Annual Catholic Services Appeal.
Father Dominic Rankin was the master of ceremonies at the Mass. Deacon Scott Keen proclaimed the Gospel, and readers were Ruth Staab and Andrew Hansen. Music for the liturgy was provided by Mark Gifford and the Choral Department of Father McGivney Catholic High School and Jill Griffin, director.
In summing up the event, Carlos Tejeda, director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life, said this: “St. Paul found that the premier window of God’s love for humanity is in fact matrimony. These couples who are celebrating so many years of love and sacrifice are precisely who and what the world needs to see, celebrate and learn from, perhaps now more than ever.
“Without them we are impoverished in our understanding of God; with them we get a fuller glimpse and foretaste of him who is love himself,” Tejeda said. “What a tremendous blessing to be with them worshipping the Lord and celebrating all that they have done by his grace to build up a culture of life and civilization of love.”