December 17, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Searching for the longest married couple in the U.S.

Shirley Vogler MeisterWhile 2010 ends by celebrating the birth of Jesus, a well-known organization—Worldwide Marriage Encounter—is in the process of locating the couple who has been married for the most years in our nation.

I suggest that all Catholics check the number of years their elders have been married and, if the years are formidable, enter those couples in this nationwide event.

Serving as the North American pillar for the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement are a Florida couple, Dick and Diane Baumbach, and a priest, Father Dick Morse.

As overseers of the project, they note, “What has been amazing is how many younger couples are nominating their parents for the honor. We’ve also had folks nominate themselves as well as friends of couples married many, many years.”

Already, half of the states are represented, but any number of couples can be nominated from each state.

The Baumbachs and Father Morse say that the project honors the commitment of married couples, and gives hope for the longevity of marriage to younger couples.

Nominations, which are open to all husbands and wives regardless of their faith tradition, can be submitted by e-mail, regular mail or phone.

Contact information for nominations requires the couples’ names, the date of their wedding, where they currently reside, and a phone number or e-mail address to reach them.

People who want to enter a couple can choose one of the following options:

  • E-mail the information to
  • Mail the information to Dick and Diane Baumbach, 1430 Scorpious Court, Merritt Island, FL 32953.
  • Call them at 321-453-2475 and provide the couple’s information.

Nominations must be received by Jan. 10, 2011.

Scott and Karen Seaborn and Divine Word Father Thomas Griffith, the U.S. ecclesial team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, will present gifts to the couple married the most years during an event on Feb. 14, 2011. Individual state winners will receive special certificates of achievement.

Wordwide Marriage Encounter has offered weekend retreat experiences for more than 42 years, and is considered the original faith-based marriage enrichment program. Such programs are continually updated to keep abreast of changes in society.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter now offers evening and half-day programs presented at parishes and other church facilities. WWME programs are available in 90 countries. In the U.S., programs are offered in English, Spanish, French and Korean.

My husband, Paul, and I, as well as many of our Catholic friends, were very involved in Marriage Encounter during the early years after our weddings.

Paul and I are grateful to have had those Marriage Encounter experiences.

We have been married for 52 years, and pray that our marriage will remain strong—and continue to grow stronger—in the coming years.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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