Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
September 19, 2023 // Bishop

Couples Mark Special Jubilee Anniversaries

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

With joyful enthusiasm, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated a special Wedding Anniversary Mass honoring dozens of married couples at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Sunday, September 10.

Emphasizing the special graces given to husbands and wives through the Sacrament of Matrimony, he reminded couples that the sacrament is intended “to perfect the couple’s love and strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace, they help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Photos by Christopher Lushis
Couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, along with their families, listen to Bishop Rhoades’ homily during a special Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Sunday, September 10.

Present at this special Mass were 41 married couples celebrating milestone anniversaries: four marking their 25th anniversary, 15 celebrating their 50th, seven their 60th, and four their 65th. Bishop Rhoades thanked these couples for their witness of fidelity and reminded them that since their wedding day, God has been giving His grace to strengthen and persevere their marriages in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.

“Christ dwells with couples who receive this sacrament, giving them the strength to take up their crosses and follow Him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another’s burdens, and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love,” Bishop Rhoades said. “This is what we are celebrating today – the Lord has dwelt with our anniversary couples through all these years. He has sustained and strengthened their marriages. And they have opened their hearts to the Lord’s grace that they have received and continue to receive in the Sacrament of Matrimony.”

Recognizing the societal challenges and trends showing steep declines in the number of people getting married, Bishop Rhoades shared details of his recent conversations with young adults in the diocese. “These young people were practicing Catholics and were very open to the vocation of marriage,” Bishop Rhoades said, “but they shared with me that many of their peers were not. I asked why and received a variety of answers: some because they were afraid of making a lifetime commitment, others didn’t think marriage would be happy and fulfilling, and still others questioned the value of marriage itself. But the underlying problem, it seems, was an attitude of individualism, to see self-giving love in marriage as something negative and restrictive.”

In response, Bishop Rhoades said he “invited these young adults to consider how this way of thinking relates to the call of Christian discipleship, and particularly Jesus’ words in last Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus said, ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ This is the Christian paradox. The sacrifices that come with marriage (or with ordination, or religious life for that matter) are really life-giving. I invited the young people to consider how the limitations to one’s individual freedom that come with marriage actually open one to a greater freedom – the freedom to love.”

Pointing to the many sacramentally married couples in attendance whose years of love in exclusive service to one another have deepened their mutual love, Bishop Rhoades said: “It’s love that makes life fulfilling, that satisfies the deepest longings of our heart. When we lose our life, we find it; when we find love, we find life. I’m sure our anniversary couples can testify to the truth of this logic – the logic of Jesus, the logic of love, of gift, and sacrifice. In a concrete way, they have offered their lives for the good of each other and their families. And even amid the hardships and challenges that are part of life, they know the interior joy and peace that comes from love, that comes from God. Ultimately, it is the love of God that gives the deepest meaning and purpose to our lives.”

He concluded by reminding those at the Mass that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony “is a journey with a destination: heaven! 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, and why we celebrate your anniversaries at the banquet feast of the Eucharist, the holy body and blood of the Lord, the sacrament of Christ’s love. My dear couples, may Jesus in the holy Eucharist increase your love and strengthen you on your journey to heaven!”

Paul and Jackie Oberhausen pose for a photo with Bishop Rhoades during the reception for couples who are celebrating jubilee wedding anniversaries this year. The Oberhausens, parishioners at Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, celebrated their 40th anniversary in May.

Following the homily, all the jubilee anniversary couples were invited to stand, join their hands, and renew their marriage vows. First the husbands, then the wives, then each couple together prayerfully renewed their commitment of marriage with and for one another. Bishop Rhoades then imparted upon these couples a special blessing.

After Mass, a reception was held where the couples were able to meet Bishop Rhoades and share details of their marital and family journeys with him.

Paul and Jackie Oberhausen, who celebrated their 40th anniversary on May 21, joked with Bishop Rhoades about “turning 40” before him, since he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his priesthood on July 9 of this year. The Oberhausens, parishioners at Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, have seven children on earth, six in heaven, and 18 grandchildren, with one currently in the womb and five in heaven.

Bishop Rhoades poses for a picture with Donald and Katherine Keefer, parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in May.

Donald and Katherine Keefer celebrated 65 years of marriage on May 3. Katherine remarked that she “doesn’t know where the time has gone!” Originally from Huntington, they were married at SS. Peter and Paul, and over the many years have been blessed with six children, 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Now they are parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne but also frequently attend Masses at St. Joseph in Roanoke. Katherine mentioned that Donald had spent several years in seminary before they started dating. She said cheerfully, “I wanted to get to heaven!” And he had the same goal, as well. It continues to be their goal together, as she remarked with a smile, “hanging onto his coattails, I hope I get up there!”

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