More than 170 golden and silver anniversary couples renewed their wedding vows at Holy Cross Cathedral on April 13. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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SOUTH END -- More than 170 golden and silver anniversary couples renewed their wedding vows at Holy Cross Cathedral on April 13 as part of the Archdiocese of Boston’s annual marriage anniversary Mass.
This past February, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the four dioceses of the Commonwealth, launched a Web site highlighting the beauty of the vocation of marriage. They also distributed marriage posters to parishes.
The campaign of prayer and education, entitled “The Future Depends on Love,” began in June 2007 when 1 million prayer cards were distributed. The cards bore an image of the Holy Family and a special prayer that said marriage is “the place where love is nurtured and family life begins.”
Kari Colella, coordinator of marriage ministries for the archdiocese, told The Pilot that “married couples’ influence on the health of society cannot be underestimated.”
“The love between a husband and wife that is nurtured in marriage extends to children, family, Church, and society,” she said.
Over the past 20 years there has been more than a 60 percent decline in the number of marriages recorded in the archdiocese. There were 12,274 weddings in the archdiocese in 1986 and 4,519 in 2006.
In the face of this reality, the four bishops of Massachusetts hope the marriage campaign and the witness of married couples will give a different view of marriage.
Colella said, “We celebrate with these couples and thank them for their important role in the Church and society and their witness of 25, 50, or even 60 years of marriage.”
When the anniversary couples entered the cathedral on April 13, they were handed a single rose and an icon of the Holy Family, which will also be distributed to parishes as part of the marriage campaign.
In the homily, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said he always looks forward to the anniversary Mass where the couples’ fidelity and commitment are celebrated. They are modern-day “heroes,” he said.
“Marriage is at the very center of God’s plan for humanity, and a strong society, strong Church and healthy children depend so much on strong marriage and strong families,” he added.
Marriage begins with a conversation, the exchange of marriage vows where God and the whole faith community eavesdrop.
April 13 was Good Shepherd Sunday, and Cardinal O’Malley spoke about the upcoming visit of the Church’s current shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI.
“The Good Shepherd has given this gift to the Church -- the ministry of Peter -- to confirm us in our faith, to help promote the unity and catholicity of Christ’s Church, to help us to follow Jesus, not at a safe distance but up close as his disciples,” he said.
The cardinal also read a letter about the papal visit that was meant to be read at all parishes in the archdiocese.
“The testimony of Early Christian writers and the witness of the martyrs demonstrate that the pope’s role has always been a crucial part of God’s plan for the Church,” he read. “That mission has continued in the apostolic succession handed on from generation to generation by the laying on of hands and the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ has not left us orphans.”
Cardinal O’Malley concluded by urging all Catholics to pray for the success of Pope Benedict’s visit and listen attentively to his message.
“The Holy Father is not a celebrity or a rock star. He is a shepherd and represents Christ, the Good Shepherd, who commanded Peter, ‘Feed my sheep.’ Pope Benedict is coming to feed us in our hunger for God and for truth,” he said.
Nicholas and Irene Magliano from St. Camillus Parish in Arlington were celebrating their 60th anniversary accompanied by their children and grandchildren.
Irene said, “It’s a wonderful memory for the children.”
William Towlson attended the Mass in honor of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Towlson of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Winthrop said his parents set an example for their children by keeping faith during even difficult times.
He said of the Mass, “It validates the admiration I have always had for them.”
He added that it was beautiful to see so many people celebrating their jubilee anniversaries.
Donald and Susan Blauss, parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Carver, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary at the cathedral. They too were surrounded by their children, including their eldest daughter who was married this year.
Donald said, “25 years is a pretty significant milestone for anyone in this age.”
Susan said of the Mass, “It was a nice way to bring everyone together to celebrate.”
For more information about the marriage initiative, visit www.MassCatholicMarriage.org.