Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
September 5, 2023 // Bishop

Bishop Celebrates Couples Marking Milestone Anniversaries

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

It is often said that the couple who prays together stays together, and Sunday, September 3, brought dozens of spouses to St. Matthew Cathedral Parish in South Bend for the annual Marriage Jubilee Mass. Celebrated by Bishop Rhoades, 32 couples celebrating a milestone anniversary received a special blessing followed by a luncheon celebration.

Gathered for the Mass were six couples celebrating their 25th anniversaries, four marking their 40th anniversaries, eight for their 50th anniversaries, nine for their 60th anniversaries, two couples celebrating their 65th, two marking their 70th, and one couple for their 75th wedding anniversary.

“Congratulations to all of you,” exclaimed Bishop Rhoades at the beginning of his homily. “Thank you for your witness of fidelity and love through all these years! We thank the Lord because He is the One who joined you together in a covenant of love and fidelity through the Sacrament of Matrimony. When you pronounced your vows, God gave you the grace, and He continues to give you the grace, to perfect your love and to strengthen your indissoluble unity as husband and wife.”

Photos by Lisa Kochanowski
Dozens of couples attend the annual Marriage Jubilee Mass on Sunday, September 3, at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. Blessings were bestowed on 32 anniversary couples: six celebrating their 25th anniversaries, four their 40th anniversaries, eight their 50th anniversaries, nine their 60th anniversaries, two their 65th, two their 70th, and one couple their 75th wedding anniversary.

‘Always Be Understanding’

Jerald and Anna Broderick celebrated 65 years of bliss and are members of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Elkhart. Proud parents of four children, 10 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren, they keep active by visiting their family whenever possible and are hoping to celebrate with the entire family later this year.

“Always be understanding, and try to say yes,” Jerald Broderick told Today’s Catholic on how he has found success in his marriage. He and Anna met in college at the University of Wisconsin.

“We’ve been very blessed,” said Anna Broderick, noting that the couple prays together each day.

Mike and Michaela Carey have been married for 25 years and are parishioners at Queen of Peace Church in Mishawaka. The couple saw the announcement for the anniversary Mass in the bulletin and felt it was a great opportunity to celebrate their special milestone. The couple has two children and hopes to be a good role model to their family on the importance of marriage and family. They feel blessed and hope to share those blessings with their children.

Michelle and Eric Szajko, also of Queen of Peace Church, celebrated their 25th anniversary. The high school sweethearts are leaders of the Savoring a Lifetime Together (SALT) marriage enrichment ministry for all couples at Queen of Peace.

“We can’t ask for a better way to celebrate 25 years,” said Michelle Szajko, who noted their daughter was married this year, and they hope to celebrate their 50th and the newlyweds’ 25th anniversaries at a celebration Mass in the future.

“Communication is the key. You have to be on point with one another,” said Eric Szajko on their key to success. “It takes lots of forgiveness.”

“It’s beautiful, amazing, and a little messy,” Michelle Szajko said about marriage.

Michelle and Eric Szajko of Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka present the gifts to Bishop Rhoades on Sunday, September 3, at the annual Marriage Jubilee Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. The couple marked the celebration of their 25th anniversary.

Resisting Temptation to Conform

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades discussed the importance of remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church in marriage.

“In the second reading today, after St. Paul exhorted the Romans to offer themselves as spiritual sacrifices to God, he wrote, ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,’” Bishop Rhoades said. “How easily we can be tempted to conform ourselves to the spirit of this age, including to our post-Christian culture’s attitude toward marriage and family life. Think about the changes in our culture’s view of marriage through the past several decades, like since our 75th-anniversary couple got married in 1947, our 50th-anniversary couples back in 1973, or even our 25th-anniversary couples who got married in 1998. Steadily, our culture’s attitude toward marriage has drifted farther and farther away from God’s plan for marriage and family life.

“Two thousand years ago, St. Paul was already teaching the Christians not to be conformed to this age but to be faithful to the will of God, to follow what is good and pleasing and perfect to Him. Today, what the Church believes about marriage, based on sacred Scripture, is a minority belief in our culture. We must resist the temptation to conform ourselves to the majority, even if it brings ridicule, criticism, and rejection. Being disciples of Jesus Christ, our first duty is to follow Him and His teachings, including His teachings about the nature of marriage amid the currents that challenge the meaning, the permanence, and the indissolubility of marriage.”

The Gospel reading for the day explored discipleship.

“In today’s Gospel, Our Lord, who had just praised Peter, now had to rebuke him as a stumbling block to him because Peter had rejected Jesus’ prediction of His passion and death. Jesus’ mission to do the will of His Father out of love for sinful humanity entailed the cross, but Peter did not want to hear anything of this. After rebuking Peter, Jesus went on to teach His disciples that ‘whoever wishes to come after Him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him,’” Bishop Rhoades said.

“All vocations, including marriage, are an invitation to discipleship, to take up our cross and follow Christ. On the cross, Christ showed us that love seeks to give even when it hurts. Love demands self-sacrifice. Our anniversary couples can testify to this. Jesus showed us that love involves faithful perseverance and self-sacrifice and ends in glory. In marriage, it is the love shown in patiently giving oneself to one’s spouse and family,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Nourishment for the Journey

Bishop Rhoades discussed the decline in the number of people getting married in Europe and North America, along with a decline in birth rates. According to Bishop Rhoades, this is giving rise to the serious social problems associated with an aging population and fewer children and young people, threatening the well-being of society, including its economic well-being.

In discussions with young people, he found that individuals weren’t interested in the sacrifice that comes with marriage. Bishop Rhoades invites all young people to understand that the sacrifices that come with marriage are life-giving and to consider how the limitations to one’s individual freedom that comes with marriage open one to a greater freedom – the freedom of love.

“Anniversary couples, may the Lord bless you as you continue your spiritual journey,” Bishop Rhoades said. “May you continue to walk together on this journey, helping each other, encouraging each other, caring for each other, and respecting each other. Remember that it is a journey with a destination. That destination is heaven. Ultimately, your task in marriage is to help each other get to heaven. Of course, you need nourishment and strength for this journey. That’s why you are here today. It’s why we celebrate your anniversaries at the banquet feast of the Eucharist. The food for our journey to heaven is the holy body and blood of the Lord, the holy Eucharist, and the sacrament of Christ’s love.

Bishop concluded: “The holy Eucharist is the memorial with which Christ the Bridegroom loved His Bride, the Church. He loved us to the end! My dear couples, may Jesus in the Holy Eucharist increase your love and strengthen you on your journey to heaven.”

Jerald and Anna Broderick attend the Marriage Jubilee Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend on Sunday, September 3. They were one of two couples celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.

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