February 28, 2020

Couples celebrate ‘culture of marriage’ at World Marriage Day event

Nolan and Rachelle Franklin of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis enjoy a reception in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis after participating in the World Marriage Day Mass across the street at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Feb. 9. (Photo by Sara Geer)

Nolan and Rachelle Franklin of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis enjoy a reception in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis after participating in the World Marriage Day Mass across the street at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Feb. 9. (Photo by Sara Geer)

By Sara Geer (Special to The Criterion)

Whether celebrating one, 25 or 50 years or more of marriage, couples across central and southern Indiana joined for Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral and a reception at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center, both in Indianapolis, to celebrate the beauty and sanctity of the vocation of marriage on Feb. 9, World Marriage Day.

Sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life, the annual event is part of National Marriage Week 2020, a national movement that focuses on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family.

“It’s so beautiful to see these couples share their day with us and celebrate special milestone anniversaries,” said Gabriela Ross, coordinator for the Office of Marriage and Family Life. She noted that it’s her “corner of the vineyard” to help families in all stages of life.

‘Marriage is a sign of God’s love’

Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, celebrated the Mass. During his homily, he thanked and praised the couples for being such great witnesses of fidelity and love.

“The love of a husband and wife is placed in their hearts by God to fulfill his design for each person,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “Marriage is more than a social contract made between people. The sanctity of marriage unites the entire being of spouses in love and is a sign of God’s love for humanity.”

He said their commitment is a symbol of Christ’s presence in our world.

“Today we are challenged to be fervent in building a culture of marriage as a sacrament,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “It requires us to be heralds of the Gospel and to stand steadfast together in promoting and defending marriage as a sacrament. God willed it and made it.”

After the homily, all married couples were asked to join hands and receive a special marriage blessing. Despite the dreary, winter weather outside, the cathedral was filled with love and warmth as couples reaffirmed their commitment to each other and shared a kiss.

After the final blessing, Ross invited couples celebrating 50 years of marriage to stand. Karen and John Carrol, members of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, were among those celebrating their golden anniversary. It was the second time they participated in the celebration.

Karen shared that the couple met through attending events hosted by the Catholic Alumni Club of Mount

St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. Marriage is about, “being together, supporting each other and having a family,” she said. They pass down the love of their faith to their children and grandchildren.

Celebrating 40 years of marriage, Lupe and Martina Sanchez of St. Philip Neri Parish in Indianapolis participated in the event with their daughter and granddaughter. Lupe said their many marriage “blessings” were due in large part to their open communication with each other and their faith in God.

“We are happy to receive a blessing today and enjoy having this time to spend with our family,” she said.

‘Support in good times and bad times’

Following the Mass, many of the couples and families walked across the street to attend a reception at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center. A buffet meal was served, and local swing dance group Naptown Stomp offered free dance lessons. Tables were filled with laughter and smiles as couples shared the stories that accumulate with years of marriage.

First-time attendees Nolan and Rachelle Franklin of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis were celebrating 28 years of marriage.

“Keeping Christ in the center and viewing marriage as a team effort has helped us through good and hard times,” said Rachelle. She also shared a tip for keeping marriage fun: “Look at day-time trips to the grocery or store as a date.”

Also participating in the celebration for the first time were Joe and Cheryl Hentz of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. The couple has been married for 20 years. Cheryl said the day was a “joyful time” for them because not only did they receive a special blessing, but also got to share the day with their son, James, who was an altar server during the Mass.

“We’ve never been [to this event] before, but when James was asked to serve, we’re so glad we made time to attend,” Cheryl said. “Marriage for us is about relying on each other for support in good times and bad times.”

World Marriage Day is just one of the annual events hosted by the Office of Marriage and Family Life. Ross noted there are other archdiocesan-sponsored gatherings available for married couples throughout the year, including marriage retreats.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends are one such example. Lourdes and Mike Padilla of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus spoke of their passion for making couples aware of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. They have been married for 23 years, and both attribute their strong marriage to the support and tools they received during the weekend they attended.

“After we finished our marriage encounter weekend, I wished we had done it much sooner in our marriage,” Mike said.

Lourdes agreed.

“We learned to rediscover each other and rekindle feelings we had when we were first married,” Lourdes said. “Each marriage deserves to receive that attention.”
 

(Sara Geer is a freelance writer and member of St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Diocese of Lafayette.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!