February 25, 2022

From the heart: Couple rooted in faith and love celebrates 70 years of marriage

Patty and Carl Lentz smile on Feb. 9, their 70th wedding anniversary, while sitting in the chapel of the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis where they are residents. (Submitted photo)

Patty and Carl Lentz smile on Feb. 9, their 70th wedding anniversary, while sitting in the chapel of the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis where they are residents. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

Faith and the mutual love that God poured into the hearts of Carl and Patty Lentz have been the driving force behind their 70 years of marriage.

The couple, both now 91, experienced the depth of their commitment days after their wedding on Feb. 9, 1952, at St. Mary Church in Anderson, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.

Carl, who was in the U.S. Air Force at the time, had to report back to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio less than a week after the wedding.

But the prospect of moving far away from all their family and friends didn’t daunt the newlyweds.

“It didn’t make any difference, because I was with him,” Patty said. “It was OK. We were married, and that was it.”

“Likewise,” added Carl. “It was easy.”

Residents for 13 years of the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis, Carl and Patty met on a blind date on New Year’s Eve in 1950.

Patty, who grew up in Anderson, was a nursing student at the time at St. Vincent Hospital, then located on Fall Creek Boulevard in Indianapolis. Carl had grown up on the east side of Indianapolis and was a graduate of Holy Cross Central School and Cathedral High School.

Their mutual Catholic faith was an important attraction for both of them as they journeyed toward marriage. And it’s been the glue that’s held them together for the past 70 years. (Related: See our 2022 Spring Marriage Supplement here)

“Our relationship with the Almighty. Pure and simple. That hasn’t changed. Never did,” was Carl’s quick and simple answer in a recent interview with The Criterion when asked about the reasons for the durability of their marriage.

“When things got iffy, you turned to Jesus,” Patty added. “He was always there and could help you.”

Building relationships with others was also a foundation stone for the couple.

When they moved to Texas, they rented an apartment over a garage near the base where Carl was stationed.

“The couple that we rented the apartment from became like parents to us,” Patty recalled. “In fact, they came to Indianapolis to visit us after we had come home. We missed home, but we had good friends there.”

That included friends they made in the Air Force. All became important for the couple when their first child, Bob, was born while living in Texas.

After Carl’s discharge from the Air Force, he and Patty returned to Indiana, where they eventually settled in Indianapolis and became members of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish.

The couple put faith in the center of their growing family. Carl and Patty have both been involved in the Cursillo movement and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

They were blessed with five children. The fifth, a son named Thomas, was stillborn in 1963.

It was a difficult time for Carl and Patty. But their love and faith carried them forward through the heartache.

“We were just there for each other,” Patty said.

“Almighty God was important,” Carl noted.

Kathy Kotarski is a daughter of Carl and Patty. Married 46 years herself, Kotarski is now a member of St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese after having been a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis for nearly 30 years.

She credits her parents for her strong faith that has helped her through life’s troubles.

“They taught us the faith and especially the importance of the Eucharist,” Kotarski said. “I have to thank them for my faith. I know that no matter what happens, I can turn to God. I lost a [newborn] grandson. But I knew where he was. I knew he was safe. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Jesus.”

Approaching her own golden wedding anniversary in a few years, Kotarski laughs when considering her parents’ 70th anniversary.

“I think, ‘Oh, dear God, am I going to live that long?’ ”

she says with a smile. “I’m so happy for them. They’ve been healthy for so long. It’s been a blessing for them to be here.”

Faith was what drew Carl and Patty to the St. Augustine Home, which is operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“You have Mass every day,” Patty said. “The sisters are in charge of the place. There’s faith, faith, faith. Why wouldn’t you come here?”

When they moved to the St. Augustine Home, Carl and Patty lived independently in an apartment there but put themselves firmly in the community life of all the residents.

“Dad would go on the floor of the nursing home and feed people that needed to be fed,” Kotarski said. “They both visited people. They just walked into people’s rooms. Dad would especially visit with the men and pray with them and talk with them. This is a ministry for them.”

The couple served as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and lectors at daily Mass and would drive the members of the Little Sisters of the Poor who ministered there on short trips around Indianapolis as well to events in surrounding states.

“We drove them everywhere,” Carl said.

“We just had a ball,” Patty said with a laugh.

It’s only been in the past year that health issues led the couple to move to the nursing home section of the St. Augustine Home and to cut back on the ways they minister there.

Little Sister of the Poor Marie Cecilia Fausto appreciates the couple’s presence at the St. Augustine Home.

“They support so much the sisters in our ministry,” said Sister Marie Cecilia. “They contribute a lot to the family spirit of the home. Everybody helps one another when there’s a need.”

Each day at Mass, she continues to see the love of Carl and Patty.

“They go to Communion holding hands,” Sister Marie Cecilia said. “It’s very sweet.”

When asked what advice they might give to newlyweds today or those preparing for marriage, Carl and Patty don’t miss a beat in pointing to the faith that has been the bedrock of their marriage for 70 years.

“Plant your marriage in the Church and in almighty God,” Carl said.

“Pray together,” Patty added. “When things get tough, go to Jesus. He’s there anytime.”

“Amen,” replied Carl. †

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