August 17, 2018

For successful marriage, ‘trust and believe in God,’ says couple

Deacon Oliver and Cora Jackson share a moment of silent prayer while renewing their nuptial vows at the archdiocesan Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 5.  (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Deacon Oliver and Cora Jackson share a moment of silent prayer while renewing their nuptial vows at the archdiocesan Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 5. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Cora Jackson refers to her husband Oliver as her “knight in shining armor,” she means it a bit more literally than most women in love. It goes back to the night they met, when she was 15 and he was 16. Oliver recounts the tale.

“It was Halloween, and she was [taking] her siblings trick-or-treating,” he recalls. “I was living with my aunt, and they had just left her house. Someone started giving them trouble. They were all girls, so I went out and intervened.”

More than 50 years later, the two now take care of each other as husband and wife. Oliver—now a permanent deacon for the archdiocese—and Cora celebrated that fact on Aug. 5 during the Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (See related article about the 50th anniversary of the institution of the diaconate)

After that Halloween night, says Oliver, “it seemed like every time I turned around, she was there.” Both were—and still are—members of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis and lived just a block-and-a-half apart.

While the two attended different high schools, they were able to develop their friendship at church as they both became more involved in youth activities.

“She was always nice and quiet and friendly,” says Oliver. “She was there if I needed to talk.”

Cora, too, found Oliver to be “really nice, and he was good looking. And he was a snappy dresser—I appreciated that,” she adds with a girlish giggle.

The two started dating after high school, and married when she was 20 and he was 21. They have three children, and now have eight grandchildren.

The Catholic faith that provided the foundation in which their relationship grew has been the focal point of their marriage. (Related: Read more stories of long-time marriages)

“There were good times and bad times, but we always kept the faith, and God was always there for us,” says Oliver. “And we shared it with our family.”

Cora agrees, noting that they “always blessed our children when they left the house … and we still bless them on the phone. Now we bless our grandchildren—it’s a long tradition with us.”

It was their deep faith that brought the Jacksons through a particularly difficult time. Their daughter was preparing for marriage when Cora suddenly became ill, couldn’t walk and was confined to a wheelchair.

“That was really a challenge, but we put our faith and trust in God,” Oliver says. “When she got out of the wheelchair at the wedding and walked down the aisle with me and our son assisting her, you could see tears of joy and happiness all around.”

Her recovery took several years, but the Jacksons consider that time as the “in sickness, in health” part of their marriage journey.

In light of that challenging time, Oliver would advise young couples to “be faithful to one another, no matter what happens in your marriage.”

“And always keep the line of communication open between you two,” Cora adds.

But above all, the two agree, faith is essential.

“Trust and believe in God, no matter what you go through in life and in marriage,” says Oliver.

“Ditto,” Cora says. “There’s no way we could have gotten through those 50 years without faith in the Lord. He’s played a big part in our lives.” †

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