August 26, 2022

Couples say faith, commitment are keys to a fruitful marriage

Celia and Domingo Conlu, members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, pose for a photograph with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson during a reception in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis after the archdiocese’s 38th annual Wedding Anniversary Mass on Aug. 14 across the street at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The couple has been married for 50 years. (Submitted photo by Richard Corona)

Celia and Domingo Conlu, members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, pose for a photograph with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson during a reception in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis after the archdiocese’s 38th annual Wedding Anniversary Mass on Aug. 14 across the street at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The couple has been married for 50 years. (Submitted photo by Richard Corona)

By Mike Krokos

As they posed for a photograph, Celia and Domingo Conlu looked the part, sharing soft smiles as Archbishop Charles C. Thompson congratulated them on their longstanding commitment to each other. The banner above them, decorated with red hearts, read: “We still do.”

Members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, the natives of the Philippines were among the couples who attended the 38th annual archdiocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass on Aug. 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, hosted by the Office of Marriage and Family Life. Approximately 500 people attended the liturgy.

Represented at the Mass were 375 children, 310 grandchildren, 85 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, noted Gabriela Ross, director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. All told, the couples represented 4,050 years of matrimony.

Married for 50 years, the Conlu’s moved to Indianapolis years ago. Celia was a nurse; Domingo was in the Army. As newcomers to Indiana, the couple put their children through Catholic schools and raised them in the faith.

“We are all Hoosiers now,” Celia smiled.

Reflecting on their union and offering advice to younger couples, Celia said, “[It requires] a lot of patience, love and respect for each other. Compromise,” Celia said. “And make God the center of your life.”

Many at the liturgy celebrated milestone anniversaries of marriage. The youngest couples recognized had been married for a year. The oldest couple marked 68 years of marriage. Three other couples celebrated unions of more than 60 years. All in attendance took part in a renewal of nuptial commitment and, after reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Archbishop Thompson offered a blessing to the couples.

The program, printed in English and Spanish, included a copy of the homily Archbishop Thompson was scheduled to deliver. The bilingual Mass featured readings in both languages as well.

“Within the context of marriage, as they say, ‘it takes two to tango.’ Without a partnership for the whole of life, where each spouse gives priority to respect for the inherent dignity of the other, there can be no lasting community of life,” the archbishop noted.

“With such a partnership, rooted in mutual respect and dignity, the foundation for family is firmly embedded. This is especially so for those marriages and families that maintain Christ-centeredness through prayer, worship, accompaniment, discernment and encounter together.”

Citing Pope Francis’ 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), Archbishop Thompson said the Holy Father shared how matrimony offers a beautiful witness.

“Pope Francis states: ‘Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is also communion: the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: God makes of the two spouses one single existence.’ This has concrete daily consequences, because the spouses, ‘in virtue of the sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that, starting with simple ordinary things of life they can make visible the love with which Christ loves his Church and continues to give his life for her’ ” (#121).

The archbishop added, “Just as those celebrating anniversaries of marriage give witness, our belief in the transforming power of divine grace in any given vocation is not merely a matter of perspective, but conviction about the truth of God’s unconditional love and abounding mercy for each of us. It is this conviction that underlies the foundation of the baptismal call to holiness and mission for each and every vocation, especially marriage and family.”

After the liturgy, 300 people attended a reception across the street at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center. Many of the couples stood in line to get a photo with Archbishop Thompson. Several couples took to the dance floor, with smiles on their faces adding to the festive atmosphere.

Lawrence and Charlene Butcher were high school sweethearts at the former St. John’s High School in Loogootee, Ind., in the Evansville Diocese, who dated, fell in love and were married in 1962.

Lawrence said Charlene was a “nice lady who I thought was pretty.” Charlene added, “We seemed to have a lot in common, and had lots of good times together.”

Now members of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove, the Butchers raised three children and now also have three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Charlene said a successful partnership involves “a lot of give and take.”

She continued, “They [married couples] need to think a lot about each other and not be selfish.”

Lawrence agreed, adding, “They need to keep Christ in their marriage.”

When asked if “patience is a virtue,” Charlene responded, “Funny, you would mention that one. Yes, a lot of patience, a lot of forgiveness, a lot of give and talk, bury the hatchet.”

Reflecting on their six decades together, Lawrence noted, “I think without faith, people are floundering. … They don’t have any purpose in life. They have nobody to turn to when they get down, and that’s a big thing.”
 

(For more information on the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life, go to cutt.ly/MarriageAndFamilyLife.)

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