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Couples celebrate World Marriage Sunday in Reston

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More than 200 married couples attended Mass and a candlelit supper for the diocese’s celebration of World Marriage Sunday Feb. 9 at St. Thomas a Becket Church in Reston.

Representing Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, who said events honoring marriage are key to encouraging married couples and bearing witness to marriage as a sacred vocation.

“We’re living in a time when fewer people than ever are getting married, and people are trying to change the definition of marriage,” Father Ferguson said. “These couples are witnesses that marriage is a beautiful commitment between a man and a woman.”

A special “Prayer in Defense of Marriage” was part of the liturgy, which was followed by a festive meal for couples and their families, donated and prepared by the ministry Families in Christ Jesus. Coordinators from the diocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life were on hand to help during dinner and to socialize with the couples.

“We are indebted to the couples who faithfully live their vows and inspire others to do the same,” said Therese Bermpohl, director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life. “Marriage is the cornerstone of the family. As vicar general, Father Ferguson said during his World Marriage Sunday homily, ‘When we think of the vocation of marriage, we are moved by awe, reverence and gratitude. You are a visible and living sign of Christ’s presence among us.” 

World Marriage Sunday began in Louisiana in the 1980s and is observed annually on the second Sunday of February to coincide with St. Valentine’s Day. It was adopted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) and was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1993. Since then, its popularity has spread.

“It is not an official liturgical feast, but it is an informal opportunity for dioceses and parishes to lift up the married couples of their areas and thank them,” said Alex Wolfe, diocesan program specialist for Marriage Preparation and Enrichment. 

Lito Urgino, a founding member of Families in Christ Jesus, gave a moving address describing challenges he faced during his 63-year marriage — in particular, he testified how his faith in God played a central role in helping his children successfully overcome drug addictions. Urgino stressed the important role fathers have in leading their families by example.

As the evening came to a close, Bermpohl expressed her gratitude to the attendees for living their vocation to married life.

“Thank you for your witness to marriage,” she said. “We need it.” 

 Fletcher can be reached at zita.fletcher@catholicherald.com or @zbfletcherACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019