May 20, 2016

Mass honors all married couples, where ‘Jesus is present in marriage’

Daniel and Gabriela Ross hold hands for the blessing of married couples during the Marriage Day Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on April 25. The couple was married on Dec. 27, 2015. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Daniel and Gabriela Ross hold hands for the blessing of married couples during the Marriage Day Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on April 25. The couple was married on Dec. 27, 2015. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Seventy-one years ago, Elbert and Mildred Grannan professed their marital vows in the sacrament of marriage.

Four months ago, Daniel and Gabriela Ross did the same.

On April 25, the Grannans and Rosses again professed those vows—along with 89 other couples from parishes across central and southern Indiana—during the Marriage Day Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The Mass and reception that followed were sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life to recognize the presence of Christ in the sacrament of marriage.

“I see this [event] as a witness of love, and how marriage as sacrament means that Jesus is present in marriage,” said Scott Seibert, archdiocesan coordinator of marriage and family enrichment. “That presence is beautiful, too—[the couples’] resilience, love, patience, endurance, loyalty and the richness of love. That’s what we’re celebrating today. And when you encounter it, you know it. There’s a beauty in it.”

Among the 91 couples in attendance at the Mass, that beauty added up to 4,090 years of marriage, 370 children, 478 grandchildren, 182 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. All couples married more than 60 years were invited to stand for recognition.

The Grannans and the Rosses were also recognized in a special way as the longest married couple and the most newly-married couple at the Mass. Both couples received flowers and a papal blessing from the Vatican on behalf of the archdiocese.

In his homily during the Mass, Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, addressed the question, “What does love look like?” He provided a three-part answer.

“If you think about it, it really means willing to be inconvenienced,” he said. “That means we are not always going to get what we want, and things are not always going to work out just as we like. Sacrifice at its essence is really about giving. It’s about giving over.

“What’s even more important is doing a simple act and not allowing ourselves to become resentful. Sacrifice means being willing to focus on others and put ourselves aside.”

Msgr. Stumpf next pointed out that “love works at being tolerant of others’ imperfections,” and lastly that “love does not insist on being right, but rather insists on making things right. Love invites us to discern what is really important, and what is largely about our egos. … Love always involves forgiveness.”

The Marriage Day event evolved from a desire to return the annual Golden Wedding Jubilee to a celebration of those celebrating 50 years of marriage. The event had also included recognition of those married more than 50 years. The Marriage Day Mass allows for recognition of all couples married more than 50 years, as well as honoring all married couples, regardless of the length of their marriage.

“I’ve had people married 25 years, 40 years, come up to me today and say, ‘Thank you so much for including us!’ ” said Seibert. “It’s nice to have something to celebrate all marriages.”

Sally Stovall, a member of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis, agreed. She and her husband, Derrick, have been married for 27 years.

“We need to support those people who are married,” said Stovall. “It looks like marriage is falling apart—all you hear [about] is people getting divorces, but there are a lot of people who are still committed to the institution of marriage.

“For me, it is a good thing, being here and seeing someone married for 71 years. It is an inspiration for the younger people.”

For the Stovalls, said Sally, “our faith is everything. … If you don’t have that trust and communication and God at the center of all you do, it’s not going to work. That’s how we have survived for 27 years—because of our faith in God.”

It was a mutual faith in God and similar family values that brought Daniel and Gabriela Ross together.

The couple met at Marian University in Indianapolis when she was a senior and he was a freshman.

As the two got to know each other, they saw in each other a common set of values and outlooks on life.

“Our families brought us up strong in the faith, and we recognized that in one another,” said Gabriela. “The rest was just part of God’s plan unfolding.”

Daniel graduated in mid-December last year. He had proposed to Gabriela the previous May.

The couple was headed to Evansville to visit friends. Before heading off, they worshiped at daily Mass, where the Gospel reading for the day recalled Jesus asking Peter three times, “Do you love me?”

On the way to Evansville, the couple stopped to enjoy the grounds of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. After they prayed at a shrine on the grounds, Daniel mentioned the morning’s Gospel. When Gabriela couldn’t recall the topic, he said, “Well, Gabby, do you love me?”

Gabriela, unaware of the pending proposal, said, “Oh, yeah! ‘Do you love me?’ That’s right.”

When Daniel again asked, “Gabby, do you love me?” Gabriela “thought he was just being sweet,” and said, “Aww, yes, Daniel, I love you so much.”

Daniel then asked a third, slightly different question, on one knee with a ring in his hand: “Gabby, will you marry me?”

The couple was married on Dec. 27 last year. They are members of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.

They have many years of marriage to enjoy before they match the Grannans’ 71 years as husband and wife.

Elbert recalled how he and Mildred, both originally from the Diocese of Evansville, met in Indianapolis in 1943.

“She was working on the west side of town for the same grocery I was working for, and they transferred her to our store,” he said. “When she knocked on the door, I let her in—she walked right into my life right then and there!”

The couple was married on April 10, 1945.

The grocery store was not the only place the Grannans worked together. In the 1980s, Mildred started Cardinal Mailing Services. Elbert retired from his job early to join her in 1989.

Although they now reside in an assisted living facility to accommodate Mildred’s wheelchair, the two still work together making bingo cards for their parish, St. Lawrence in Indianapolis, where they have been members since 1955.

“[Working together] definitely brought us closer,” said Mildred. “We’re a team.”

As a team, the Grannans also raised four children. They now enjoy their eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

They credit their 71 years of happy marriage to a few basic rules.

“Never go to bed mad,” said Mildred. “And if you’ve got something to discuss, don’t yell at each other. Sit down like human beings and talk it out. And go to church!”

Elbert added to the list of rules the importance of saying “I love you” several times a day, noting that either spouse can say it first.

Daniel is open to such advice, including advice that Msgr. Stumpf gave in his homily.

“We’re finally just starting to get to the point where yeah, we’re newlyweds, but past the point where everything is just starry bliss,” he said. “I appreciated [Msgr. Stumpf’s] advice to not let little things become big things.”

Gabriela appreciated the archdiocese offering the Marriage Day Mass and reception.

“Right now, four months after getting married, we’re getting over the whirlwind of the big day and still sending out thank-you notes,” she said. “This [event] is a good reminder of the mission of marriage and the mission of families, and why we’re living the vocation we’re living.”

(The next Marriage Day Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2017, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Registration for this event will not start until the fall. The next archdiocesan celebration of marriage is the Golden Wedding Jubilee for couples celebrating their 50th anniversary. It is set for Aug. 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis with a reception to follow. For more information or to register for the event, log on to, or call 317-236-1521 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1521.)

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