Bishop celebrates Marriage Jubilee Mass

Love was in the air Sunday afternoon as 251 couples came from all parts of the diocese to attend the 37th annual Marriage Jubilee Mass. This year's celebration boasted 116 golden anniversaries and 135 silver anniversaries with a combined total of 9,175 years of marriage represented in the pews of St Agnes Church in Arlington.

As impressive as this statistic is, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde stressed that what was more important than their marital mileage was their witness to love.

In his homily, Bishop Loverde drew a comparison between his own 50th anniversary as a priest and the golden jubilarians in the pews. He could not have known what his life as a priest would mean in practice on his ordination day, just as the jubiliarians could not have foreseen the wonders and challenges that awaited them on their wedding day. He thanked them for not giving up in the face of adversity and witnessing to the truth.

"We see shining forth clearly the fundamental reality that holds a married couple together," said Bishop Loverde. "Committed steadfast love anchored in the person of Jesus Christ."

After the homily, the couples stood, held hands and recited vows reminiscent of years earlier: "… I rejoice in recalling our wedding day, when I took you … to have and to hold … for betterfor worse ... until death do us part."

Golden jubiliarian Mary Ann McLean looked up at her husband Robert as she recited her vows from her wheelchair.

"Many people now get divorced over the simplest things," said Mary Ann. "Nothing is easy. If you are not willing to fight for it, don't jump in."

Many couples were joined by their children and grandchildren who smiled, cried and snapped pictures during the ceremony. Thomas and Frances McGuire's children and grandchildren were happy to be able to witness them renew their vows of love.

"The liturgy was beautiful and the bishop's comments about us were inspiring and kind," said Thomas McGuire. "Fifty years of marriage has taught me to be a better listener and respect the one you love more than anyone else."

Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Loverde and was able to watch his parents, Joe and Mary Ann Ferguson, renew their vows.

"Faith is at the heart of their marriage and that is what people getting married and people who are perhaps struggling in their marriage, should look to," said Father Ferguson. "Without faith you would wonder how people stay married for 25 and 50 years, but with faith, anything is possible with God."

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015