By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Catholic couples, who were married 25 or 50 years, and their families and friends assembled for Masses celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, first at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, on Oct. 9, and the following Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne.
At the Fort Wayne Mass, Bishop Rhoades told the couples in his homily, which can be found on page 2 of this week’s Today’s Catholic, “The life of Marriage is indeed a holy journey, since Marriage is an institution which has God as its author.”
On the weekend in which diocesan parishes honored Blessed Pope John Paul II, Bishop Rhoades said that the beloved pope often told married couples: “Become what you are!”
When Pope John Paul II was declared “blessed” on May 1, Bishop Rhoades chose Oct. 16, the day on which Pope John Paul was elected to the papacy, as the weekend of celebration of the beatification in the diocese.
Bishop Rhoades spoke of his great affection and the influence of Blessed Pope John Paul II. As a seminarian in Rome, Bishop Rhoades served Mass for Pope John Paul II. Bishop Rhoades said he knew then that Pope John Paul II was a saint.
John Paul II had written extensively on the vocation of Marriage and the theology of Marriage. “His writings and insights continue to inspire couples,” Bishop Rhoades said.
“(Marriage) is a holy journey because Jesus elevated this natural institution to the status of a sacrament, which means that through it God communicates His grace,” Bishop Rhoades said. “It is a holy journey because the marital vocation is meant to be a means to growth in holiness. Holiness is at the very heart of the vocation of Marriage — it is a call to become holy and to help each other become holy, which means leading each other to heaven.”
Bishop Rhoades said, St. Paul, in the letter to the Collossians, “calls the Christians ‘God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved’ and then he exhorts them to live the Christian virtues, the virtues that are the mark of those who live the new life in Christ, a truly holy life.”
Bishop Rhoades spoke of the many virtues of a holy Marriage: the unbreakable spousal love of Jesus Christ for His Church, being compassionate and kind to one another, being humble and gentle and patient, bearing with one another and forgiving one another and being thankful.
“Every husband and wife is called to be thankful for their spouse as a gift they have received. You are a gift to each other,” Bishop Rhoades said. “And ultimately this gift of the other comes from God’s awesome love for each of you. If you have been blessed with children, this is also a cause for thanksgiving.”
Following the Mass at the cathedral, couples continued the celebration at the Grand Wayne Center. Some of told Today’s Catholic that their marriages are sustained by these virtues.
For Judy and Jack Diagostino of St. Peter Parish in Fort Wayne, they said kindness and patience ring true for their marriage of 50 years — and “patience tops all others.” The couple has five children, who all live in Indianapolis, and 16 grandchildren.
Jim and Regina Bodette of St. Joseph Parish-Hessen Cassel felt respect for one another was the top virtue that sustained their Marriage of 50 years.
“I think patience and asking forgiveness” were also important, Regina and Jim noted.
“Basically, you need to keep God in the center, because when anything goes wrong, you always go back to God,” Regina said. The couple said asking forgiveness and keeping God in the center of their Marriage was important. The couple has four children and seven grandchildren.
“When you spend 50 years together, you have to have some compassion and love,” Jim added.
Clara and Norbert Sarrazine of St. Louis Parish-Besancon were celebrating 50 years of Marriage. Norbert is the brother of Father Ken Sarrazine, pastor of St. Joseph, Roanoke, and St. Catherine-Nix Settlement.
Clara remarked how prayers for support for each other sustained them through sickness and the death of one of their nine children. They lost the son who was to take over the family farm business. Norbert, at one point in their marriage, lost his job at International Harvester.
Clara said as her own children grew older there was still a need for a lot more for prayers.
“We try to go to Mass during the week whenever we can before we get started with anything else,” Clara added. The Sarrazines have 12 grandchildren.
Kay and Bob Schneider of St. Joseph Parish, Roanoke, are celebrating 50 years.
“Patience is the big one,” said Kay, who has worked many years with the diocese as a teacher and principal. She is the religious education director at St. Joseph Parish.
Bob added, “When you’re married so long, sometimes it’s very difficult to think about the virtues the Lord has provided us. Because you are so busy with everyday family life and the days go by so fast, we don’t even have time to argue. Here it is 50 years later and we’re still wondering, where did the time go!”
“But it was certainly a great ceremony to remind us of how the great virtues and holiness is provided to us,” Bob added.
The Schneiders have four children and 18 grandchildren. “It’s a full house at Thanksgiving,” Kay noted. They feel blessed that their four children are practicing Catholics, Bob noted.
David and Peg Springer of St. Vincent Parish, Fort Wayne, were celebrating their 25th anniversary. “The virtue of patience is very important for me — something very important and learned,” said Peg. “And I continue to work on patience and temperance.”
The Springers’ son, Brad, celebrated with his parents at the Mass while their daughter Katelyn is away at college.
David said compassion is the virtue that sustains their marriage and “love for each other even on the tough days. … Patience again is important to both of us. In any marriage, you go through the tough times and you get through them having God number one and you as a couple as number two. You always keep God as number one in your life and in your marriage.”
At the end of the homily, Bishop Rhoades said, “At every Mass, we celebrate the memorial of the love with which Christ loved us to the end, even to the giving of his life. In the Eucharist, you who are married meet the One who is the source of your marriage. You encounter the love that animates and sustains your marriage, the love of Christ for his Church.”
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