September 13, 2019

Couples’ 50 years of marriage ‘is a most extraordinary witness’

Barbara and Thomas Rzepka of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis sing during the annual archdiocesan Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 25. They were among the 68 couples from 37 parishes throughout central and southern Indiana who worshipped at the Mass to celebrate their 50th anniversary. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Barbara and Thomas Rzepka of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis sing during the annual archdiocesan Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 25. They were among the 68 couples from 37 parishes throughout central and southern Indiana who worshipped at the Mass to celebrate their 50th anniversary. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Many amazing things happened in 1969: the first lunar landing, Woodstock, the debut of the Boeing 747, the Beatles’ last public performance.

That same year, 68 couples entered into the sacrament of marriage in central and southern Indiana, making their own lasting impact on the world. They represent 3,400 years of sacramental love, raised 199 children and now have 448 grandchildren and 23 great‑grandchildren.

Those couples, their families and guests came from 37 parishes from as far as Connersville, New Albany, Terre Haute and many cities and towns in between, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 25. The Mass is celebrated annually as a ministry of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life.

(Related: Jubilarians celebrating golden anniversary offer advice to younger married couples)

“Our 50th anniversary is coming up on Sept. 13, and we wanted to do something special,” said Dorothy Alexander. She and her husband Carlos are members of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. “We thought this [Mass] would be just the thing to do. And it’s nice to celebrate with all of these other couples.”

Carlos agreed.

“It was a wonderful celebration,” he said with a broad smile. “It brought back many memories.”

Archdiocesan vicar general Msgr. William Stumpf served as the principal celebrant of the Mass. During his homily, he noted that this Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass celebrates “the love of our jubilarians. Your love is certainly a beautiful reflection of God’s love.

“But your love is also a witness. It is a witness to what Jesus spoke of in our Gospel today: that following in his footsteps—trying to love like Christ— requires effort. It is not always easy.”

He noted that by choosing to love for 50 years through “the ups and downs of married life,” the couples provide “a witness to a world that struggles with commitment, forgiveness and inconvenience, and needs to see joy.”

It is commitment that “helps to anchor” married love, Msgr. Stumpf said.

And such love, he continued, “is not possible without forgiveness. … Forgiveness is a choice—a challenging one, but absolutely essential for love to endure.”

So, too, is the willingness to be inconvenienced, something Msgr. Stumpf equated with sacrifice.

“Surely Jesus made it quite clear that love is always about sacrifice,” he said. “And sacrifice for most of us, well, it happens most often when we are willing to be inconvenienced.”

But marriage is also a call to happiness and joy, he continued, emotions that naturally spread to others.

“How often have we been touched as we see a couple walking hand in hand?” Msgr. Stumpf asked. “Be they young or old, our spirits are lifted when we see a couple who are delighted in one another.”

The Church proclaims that marriage is a sacrament—an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Thus in the eyes of the Church, he said, marriage is seen as “holy, and continues to be a pathway to holiness.

“And what does holiness look like? Well, frequently it looks like 50 years of love, commitment, forgiveness, sacrifice and joy. And that is a most extraordinary witness.”
 

(For more information on ministries offered by the Office of Marriage and Family Life, go to www.archindy.org/marriageandfamily/index.html. To run an announcement in The Criterion for a marriage of 50, 55, 60, 65 or 70 or more years, go to www.CriterionOnline.com then select “Send us information” on the left‑side menu, or call 317-236-1585.)

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