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Bishop Burbidge honors married love with jubilarians

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge spoke the words of newly canonized St. Paul VI during the Marriage Jubilee Mass Oct. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. “Married love is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment,” he said to the 222 couples celebrating their 25th or 50th wedding anniversary.


Families joined couples celebrating 25 or 50 years of marriage.


“Reflect on how the Lord has miraculously acted in your lives and sustained you through the good times and bad and in sickness and in health and helped you to live the virtues of which St. Paul speaks: kindness, humility, patience, gentleness and the ability to forgive one another.”

Sylvia and Jesus Cota, parishioners of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly, were one of the couples celebrating 50 years of marriage. Shortly after they were married, Jesus’ mother died of breast cancer at age 49, leaving five school-age children without a parent to care for them. Sylvia was alone with her mother-in-law when she passed.

“I was there in my mind just talking to her. I said, ‘I know you’re in pain, rest assured that somehow we will chip in so your children won't lack anything.’ Then I said an Our Father and as soon as I said Amen, she sighed and died right at that moment,” said Sylvia.

The young couple then raised their own 5-month-old baby and Jesus’ siblings, ages 9 to 16. For a while, they lived in two-bedroom student housing while Jesus earned his doctorate. Then they found a three-bedroom home, and Jesus converted the garage into a bedroom and more living space. “It was the first time that the kids slept by themselves,” said Sylvia. 

Whenever she needed help, Sylvia would pray to her mother-in-law for guidance. Throughout those years and today, the couple is glad they were able to keep the siblings together. “You should see them now, they’re very close,” Sylvia said. 

Sylvia advises all married couples to not insult one another in the heat of anger and to spend time with one another. “My mother would say, ‘If your husband invites you to do something, it is because he wants to be with you and share his life with you. Always say yes,’ ” she said.

Though not without its challenges, Sylvia is grateful for her marriage and God’s role in their relationship. “We always have God for guidance. Even though we go through hard times, after the storm we can see clearly that God never leaves us alone,” she said. “The years have gone so fast for both of us. I thank God I have a great husband — I trust him with my whole life.”

This story has been updated. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018