During this Year of the Real Presence, 171 married couples observing milestone anniversaries gathered at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown Sept. 19 to celebrate the vocation of marriage.
Couples were invited to reaffirm their vows and thank God for the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage during the annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert.
The Mass was also livestreamed on AD Today and broadcast live on Service Electric Cable Channel 902.
In his homily Bishop Schlert noted that the couples’ “ongoing task is always to help each other grow in holiness, to get to heaven, to say that beyond the nightly news there is the possibility of love, unconditional love, the ‘ism’ that the world does not speak – altruism – wishing the good of the other, wanting each other to get to heaven.”
“That’s why we come together,” he said. “Yes, to celebrate, to give congratulations, to ask God’s continued blessings, but to give thanks that He continues through you and others like you to give that example of love to the world – the love that Christ has for his Church.”
After the homily the Bishop asked the couples to turn toward each other, join their right hands and reaffirm their commitment to each other, with these words:
“Blessed are you, Lord, for by your goodness I took you as my wife/husband. Blessed are you, Lord, for in the good and the bad times of our life you have stood lovingly by our side. Help us, we pray, to remain faithful in our love for one another, so that we may be true witnesses to the covenant you have made with humankind.”
The 171 couples registered for the Mass represented over 7,994 years of marriage. In addition, 107 of the couples are celebrating their 50th anniversary or more, 16 couples still attend the church where they were married and 61 individuals attended Catholic school.
The longest-married couple was Paul and Doris Marsicano of Allentown married 74 years, on Aug. 23, 1947.
Those attending were given a certificate from Bishop Schlert after the Mass, and registered couples not attending will receive theirs by mail.
Like the vocations to the Priesthood or to Religious Life, the Sacrament of Marriage is a response to a call from God, who says, “Follow me.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the love of husband and wife becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves.”
By their marriage, the couple witnesses Christ’s spousal love for the Church. In answering God’s call to marriage, the couple promises, with the help of divine grace, a sacramental partnership of life and love.