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Couples celebrate silver, golden anniversaries at the Cathedral

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The first Mass for Marriage Jubilarians in 1978 had five golden jubilarians and 48 silver jubilarians.

In 2019 that number was 118 celebrating golden anniversaries and 91 celebrating silver jubilees.

As Bishop Michael F. Burbidge noted in his homily, that comes to a total of 8,175 years between the 200 couples celebrating at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Oct. 13.       

“Dear jubilarians, with your children, grandchildren and all your family and friends, I express profound thanks for the precious gift you are to the church, to our diocese and all of us,” said Bishop Burbidge. “There is a beautiful country song by Vince Gill called, ‘Look At Us.’ Some of the lyrics are, ‘Look at us after all these years together/Look at us after all that we’ve been through/Look at us leaning on each other/If you wanna see how true love should be then just look at us.’”

“We recall the words: 'Look at us.' We do just that today with profound thanks, respect, admiration and love. We are so proud of you and blessed to have you in our lives. Know of our prayers for you. Through the intercession of Mary and Joseph and with the help of their Son Jesus, may the love you share grow stronger with the passing of each new day. May the Lord stay strong in faith and joyful in hope today and forever. Amen.”  

Each couple faced each other and renewed their vows following the homily.

Among the jubilarians were three permanent deacons — golden jubilarians Deacon Brian Majewski of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas and Deacon Albert Anderson of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria; and silver jubilarian Deacon Rob Warner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge.

The Andersons shared their story in an interview prior to the celebration.

In a way, Beverly played hard to get when Al asked her out after being introduced by his sister.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like him.

“Growing up in the south, a lady would never say ‘yes’ the first time,” Beverly said.

“We became friends, went out a few times and got to know each other and shared a lot of interests,” said Deacon Anderson.

Shared interests include a love of education, children and making a difference in the world. They also share large families — each of them is one of five children. The Andersons have two children, two grandchildren and one great-grandson.

The Andersons, parishioners of St. Joseph where Beverly is the business manager and Al serves as deacon, have been married five times by their count — civilly since Beverly was Baptist before they were married; in the rectory after she converted; a renewal with Bishop John R. Keating; a 25th anniversary renewal and now at 50 years.

“It’s good to renew the vows, to hear it and renew that covenant again,” said Beverly. “As you go on you have to remind yourself you are in this for the long haul, it’s not a contract.”

They can be brutally honest with each other — Deacon Al braves telling his wife about how she looks — and Beverly will tell him when his homilies are too long.

“He loves me despite myself,” she said.

“She’s someone to share my life with without reservations,” he said. “It’s a blessing when you can be yourself.”

They might not always get along, but 50 years of marriage shows they can work it out.

“I always tell people there’s no 12-step program, no ‘do these 12 things and everything will be perfect,’” said Beverly.

Along with giving each other space and not holding in something that is bothering you, Deacon Al said, “Think about why you fell in love in the first place.”

They have lived the vows. For richer or poorer — When they were married, they lived in an efficiency apartment that cost $25 a week and served hot dogs and SpaghettiOs at their wedding reception. But they were happy.

Through sickness and in health — Deacon Al is a prostate cancer survivor, as is his son, brother-in-law and brother. Other family members went through illnesses. “We leaned on each other and go through things together,” said Deacon Al. 

Looking back over the years, the Andersons don’t look at the down times.

“We give thanks for the good our God has blessed us with,” said Beverly. “We’ve got to give back, to do more.”

Deacon Al said he considered the priesthood but saw the love and family situation he had growing up. “I wanted that, and God gave it to me,” he said. “Thirty years later, Beverly encouraged my call to the diaconate.” 

That call strengthened their marriage, said Deacon Al.

“We both have that social consciousness and we see it in the context of our faith,” he said. “We both work for the kingdom of God and support each other. It’s brought us closer together.” 

Couples at the jubilee shared their experiences. 

Rick and Jane Steele, parishioners of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield, are converts to the faith.  They said it is important to keep God in your life, but communication is huge. “The church has had a tremendous impact on our marriage,” said Rick.

James and Megan Crockett, parishioners of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Fredericksburg, have been married for 25 years. Both sang in their respective churches while in the U.S. Coast Guard. They said the biggest blessing of their marriage has been their three children. When asked what advice they would give to newly married couples, Megan said to be open to communication. 

“Focus on the fundamentals, focus on what got you there. You found things that attracted you to each other,” said James. “Faith has been the core of our relationship – it’s essential, a bedrock that brought us together to begin with.”

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019