By Karen Clifford
SOUTH BEND — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed over 50 married couples gathered at St. Matthew’s Cathedral for the silver and golden wedding anniversary Mass on Sept. 12.
One of the couples, Jim and Mary Kay McLaughlin, parishioners of St. Matthew Cathedral, who are celebrating 50-plus years of marriage, decided to attend to bless their life journey together in love and faith.
“We are actually celebrating our 60th anniversary but got permission to come,” said Jim. “We give credit to God’s help in the sustainability of our marriage.” Mary Kay added, “We have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, say daily rosaries and come to daily Mass when we can.”
Bishop Rhoades echoed this commitment of love and faith to those in attendance. “On this joyful occasion, we gather to offer thanks to God for the gift of His unfailing love in the sacrament of Marriage. We celebrate in a very special way the love of God which has united and sustained the married lives of the couples gathered here from throughout our diocese who are celebrating 50 or 25 years of holy Matrimony.”
Memories from the years 1960 and 1985 were highlighted by Bishop Rhoades through historical occurrences within the Catholic Church, world and national events, and cultural experiences in music, movies and sports.
“Back in 1960, our world was very different. His Holiness John XXIII was the pope. His Excellency, Leo Pursley was bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. In fact, it was in the year 1960 that the title of our diocese was changed from the Diocese of Fort Wayne to that of Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. And in 1960, St. Matthew’s Church was promoted to the rank of the diocese’s co-cathedral,” Bishop Rhoades recalled.
He continued, “On the national scene, John F. Kennedy was elected the first Catholic president of the United States, narrowly defeating Richard Nixon. In 1960, the civil rights movement grew as black students staged a sit-in at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., to protest segregated seating. That event inspired a wave of sit-ins across the south. It was also the year that the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance airplane over Soviet airspace and captured American pilot Gary Powers.”
Many of the couples who were married in 1960 smiled as Bishop Rhoades spoke of the cultural experiences of the time. “On the lighter side, 50 years ago in 1960, the first Teflon, non-sticking cookware went on sale at Macy’s in New York. ‘Ben-Hur’ won the academy award for Best Picture. ‘Mack the Knife’ by Bobby Darin was the Grammy Record of the Year. ‘Gunsmoke’ was the number one TV show. It was a joyful year for Bishop D’Arcy since the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship,” said Bishop Rhoades.
Couples celebrating their 25th anniversary were equally intrigued by the bishop’s comments about the year 1985. “Pope John Paul II was vigorously leading the Church and having a profound impact in the world. Ronald Reagan was our President and tax reform was in full swing. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the last president of the Soviet Union. You may recall that in 1985 the Live Aid concert in London and Philadelphia was beamed around the world and the song ‘We are the World’ was recorded for the benefit of Africa and became the song and record of the year.”
Bishop Rhoades again affectionately referred to his predecessor. “Sadly, for Bishop D’Arcy, the Boston Celtics lost in the NBA championship against the Los Angeles Lakers. ‘Back to the Future’ was the top movie of the year and the ‘Cosby Show’ was the most popular TV show.”
When referring to the anniversary Mass Gospel reading, Bishop Rhoades emphasized the true meaning of love within marriage: “The readings of today’s Mass are very appropriate for our celebration today. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the great commandment of love to his disciples. He says to them: ‘love one another as I love you.’ Our Lord teaches that ‘no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ This is the love that Jesus not only taught, but which He lived. He indeed laid down his life for us. This is the love that the vocation of marriage is to reveal, one that seeks the good of the other, a love that is ever ready and willing to sacrifice, a self-giving love.”
St. Thomas the Apostle parishioners Tami and Nick DeLucenay, who renewed their silver anniversary vows, reflected on the sacrament of Marriage and how their faith has influenced their life together.
“When we did our Engaged Encounter weekend 25 years ago in a blizzard in South Bend, it was the first time that I really understood that the sacrament of Marriage is not just a day, but a lifetime. With renewing of our vows, it makes the commitment to the sacrament of marriage that much stronger,” said Nick.
Tami summed up their strong commitment to each other through Christ’s love. “Our Catholic faith is what holds our marriage together. Through all of the joys and the trials of our marriage, our faith renews and refreshes us as we journey together.”
The Fort Wayne silver and golden anniversary Mass will be held Sunday, Sept. 19, at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
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