Catholic Free Press

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  • Sep
  • 26

Togetherness celebrated at annivesary Mass

Posted By September 26, 2014 | 11:56 am | Lead Story #1

By Tanya Connor

Married couples have a variety of ways of staying together. But one method of remaining close – bringing a lawn chair up to the roof – was perhaps the most unusual of those mentioned Sunday.
The Diocese’s annual Mass for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries had just ended at St. Paul Cathedral. So had the reception, at which couples get congratulatory certificates and have their photo taken with Bishop McManus. Conversation continued on the sidewalk.
Anne Hamel, of St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge, said she and her husband, Albert, had never been to this Mass. Since they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, she asked if he wanted to try it.
“I was really impressed and very pleased with the ceremony,” she said.
She reminisced about working for Bishop Harrington, before he was bishop, and noted that he celebrated their wedding Mass.
While she was talking, her husband was studying the cathedral roof with interest. He said he’s working on his own roof.
Mr. Hamel, 81, claimed he’s a workaholic. Before their honeymoon was officially over, the building contractor with his own business was called to fix something for a customer.
He was usually so busy with work that his wife said she used to take their daughters on vacation without him;  he also had to stay home to milk the goats and cows he kept for the family.
In 1964 they built the house they’re now putting a new roof on, he said.
“I used to pray for a rainy Sunday so we could have a day off,” recalled Mrs. Hamel, now 75. “This was when we were first married. I thought, ‘If this is what marriage is about, I might have made a mistake.’”
But 50 years later they’re still working together, and apparently having a good time.
“You know why she’s doing this?” Mr. Hamel asked. He explained that his wife’s parents came to the United States from Poland and worked hard all their lives. “My wife’s a workaholic, just like me.”
Mr. Hamel said that last fall he put a lawn chair up on the staging where he was working on the roof so his wife could be with him. She said she did some reading up there and took some photos.
“I’ve got pictures of him working,” she said. But there are no photos “to prove that I was helping in any way.”
She did help, though, her husband said. She mixed the colors of the synthetic slate shingles.
“He’s the one that tells me what pattern he wants,” Mrs. Hamel said. Then she stacked the shingles accordingly.
“I look at it every day and I say, ‘What a pretty, new roof,’” Mr. Hamel said.
But it’s not just roofs this husband of 50 years can talk about. He also has advice for how to find a good mate: “Get on your hands and knees and you pray.”
Helen Podles, of St. Andrew Bobola Parish in Dudley, also offered words of wisdom after the anniversary Mass. The previous day she and her husband, Theodore, had celebrated their 67th anniversary. The family wasn’t there because everyone came together for her 91st birthday on Sept. 10, she said. But Sunday they joined their daughter Karen D’Alessandro, and her husband, Gary, married 35 years, at the Mass.
Mrs. Podles said this was the first time she and her husband attended it.
What brought them?
“I thought it was time – to get a blessing from the bishop,” she said. Other years other things came up.
She said she liked how couples’ names and years married were called and they stood so you could see who they were.  Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, said 42 couples celebrating anniversaries – from first to 69th – registered. Together, their years of marriage totaled 1,630.
The Podles said they met at a dance in Mendon and continued dancing – until they couldn’t dance anymore.
“We were Polka dancers,” explained Mr. Podles, who turns 92 in November.
Mrs. Podles’ advice for staying in step with your partner?        Love and trust are key in a marriage, she said; “we trusted one another in good and bad times.”
Asked what she would tell today’s youth she replied: “Faith and trust for the young people, and get married in the Church. I think our faith did it. Without God we wouldn’t survive. I look to God in a lot of ways, in good times and in bad.”
Shirley Ford, married to her husband, Robert, for 65 years, had similar advice.
“Don’t go to bed angry,” said the member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Worcester. “Live each day to the fullest.
“Bob, you’re far wiser than I am,” she addressed her husband, seeking his words of wisdom.
“It’s give and take,” he said.
“You need your faith to get you through the hard times, because no matter how good things are, there are hard times too,” she added.
“Basically we’re thankful to God that he has blessed us with all these years, to reach this milestone,” added her husband. “We have to thank the clergy for their guidance over the years.”
In his homily Sunday Bishop McManus offered his and Pope Francis’ guidance.
He noted that the pope recently married several couples aged 25 to 56, and told them the husband helps his wife become more of a woman, and she helps him become more of a man. The pope said Christ’s love can sustain and renew their love when theirs becomes worn out, and that arguing is natural, but his advice is to make peace before day’s end.
Bishop McManus spoke of the wedding vows: to love, cherish and honor one another in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
“You have kept that promise,” he told couples gathered at St. Paul’s. “And I, in my own name and that of the Church, thank you and congratulate you.”
He read statistics of children born out of wedlock and marriages ending in divorce, and spoke of the Church’s teaching about couples sharing in God’s creative power, bringing new life and caring for and molding their children, giving society new citizens.
Marriage is natural, and the Church speaks of the domestic Church, where love is ripe, deep and unbreakable, he said. The Church is viewed as intolerant because it won’t bend the knee to the newest fad, he said, but in the end the Church’s truth will prevail.

Studies: Religion, marriage increase longevity

By Nancy Frazier O’Brien

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Study after study has confirmed that those who are involved in religion and those who are married are healthier, physically and mentally happier and live longer than those who are not.
“The health benefits of marriage are so strong that a married man with heart disease can be expected to live, on average, 1,400 days (nearly four years) longer than an unmarried man with a healthy heart,” said Dr. Scott Haltzman, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
“This longer life expectancy is even longer for a married man who has cancer or is 20 pounds overweight compared to his healthy but unmarried counterpart,” Haltzman added. “The advantages for women are similar.”
Couples with higher levels of religiosity “tend to enjoy greater marital satisfaction, fidelity and stability, with less likelihood of domestic violence,” according to a compilation of studies by the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
Religious belief and practice are also associated with lower divorce rates, lower levels of teen sexual activity, less abuse of alcohol and drugs, lower levels of many infectious diseases, less juvenile crime and less violent crime, the foundation said.
“Marriage and religion influence various dimensions of life, including physical health and longevity, mental health, happiness, economic well-being and the raising of children,” wrote sociologist Linda J. Waite and economist Evelyn J. Lehrer in a paper published in 2009 by the National Institutes of Health.
“We argue that both marriage and religiosity generally have far-reaching positive effects; that they influence similar domains of life; and that there are important parallels through which each achieves these outcomes,” they added.
In a 2012 interview, the late psychiatry professor Robert Coombs, from the University of California at Los Angeles, concurred on the positive effects of marriage. “Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics,” he said.
As the extraordinary world Synod of Bishops on the family begins its work Oct. 5 at the Vatican, one of the challenges facing it will be raising awareness of the positive benefits of marriage on individuals, families and society as a whole.
“We know the numbers don’t lie about the impact divorce has on children,” Randall Woodard, an associate professor of theology/religion at St. Leo University in Florida, told Catholic News Service. “Nearly every social indicator is a lot lower (for those) raising children in a single-parent household, and I say that as a single father of three. A traditional family is not the only way to live, but it is the best way, generally speaking.”
Woodard said religious institutions may be uniquely suited to help families deal with their challenges.
“Churches provide tremendous support groups that can provide spiritual, financial and psychological help,” he said. “Being surrounded by people who share many of the same ideals can help reinforce others who may be struggling.
“Another way churches can help familial health is by knowing their own limitations,” Woodard added. “Many times people will come to the church with problems such as depression or other issues that are better resolved by medical professionals. Being that first point of contact can be very vital by encouraging them to seek medical help when necessary.”