Catholic Free Press

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  • Oct
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Years of ‘wedded bliss’ celebrated

Posted By October 10, 2013 | 12:47 pm | Lead Story #3
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By Tanya Connor

They came to the diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass Sunday at St. Paul Cathedral celebrating 100 years of marriage.
But they weren’t the longest-married couple the bishop praised.    Still, the elderly gentleman called it “kind of rare.”
“They” were actually three generations of couples. Their combined years of marriage add up to 100.
“It’s the first time I remember it, for this kind of Mass,” John Burque said of such a situation. He and his wife, Gloria, who hail from St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, have been married for 60 years.
Their son Peter and his wife, Darline, of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Brookfield, were celebrating 35 years of marriage.
Their son Steven and his wife, Jessica, of St. Ann Parish in Oxford, were there for the first time, celebrating their fifth anniversary.
“It was a wonderful Mass,” Steven Burque said of the annual gathering for couples from around the diocese to celebrate their wedding anniversaries. During Mass their names and number of years married are called and they renew their vows. At the reception afterwards they have their photos taken with Bishop McManus and get congratulatory certificates from him.
Peter Burque said he and his wife started coming for their fifth anniversary, with his parents, and came every five years.
And how long have his parents been coming?
“Oh, awhile,” replied his mother.
She said they have three children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Asked their secret for marriage, Gloria Burque replied, “Compromise.”
“One day at a time,” added her husband.
In his homily Bishop McManus encouraged ongoing faithfulness. He suggested praying daily the apostles’ request in the day’s Gospel: “Increase our faith.” (Lk 17:5) He noted that Catholics are celebrating the Year of Faith this year.
Human beings take for granted what is most precious – until they lose it – he said. In married life that includes one’s spouse and children.
Fifty years ago 75 to 80 percent of Catholics attended Mass each Sunday, while today in the Worcester Diocese only about 25 to 30 percent do, he said. He said it is impossible to live the Christian life without the grace of the sacraments, and spoke about the sacrament of marriage.
He said he thought one couple present had been married 68 years, and added that that is extraordinary, given the crisis in marriage today. (That couple, the longest-married among those who registered for the celebration this year, was Walter and Mary Lalone, of Immaculate Conception Parish in Worcester.)
The bishop said even in his own family, his nephews and nieces waited for some time before marrying, whereas years ago many couples married in their teens. He also spoke of a decline in priestly and religious vocations in a culture that fears commitment.
In such a culture, this Mass celebrates marriage as an institution – one man and one woman joined for life, a gift of God and nature – he said. He praised the attending couples’ witness to their families, friends and the world.
Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, said 14 of the couples who registered were celebrating their 50th anniversary and five were celebrating their 25th. Typically those are big anniversaries for which couples attend this Mass, and other years ending in five and zero are also popular, she said. But, she said, “Any year can be significant.”
Bishop McManus said many of those present heard the following in the exhortation at their weddings: “You begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve the common life, always make them generously. … When love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete.”
“We Americans are convinced that we are entitled” to many things, which is a far cry from sacrifice, Bishop McManus said. He said if the marriages represented at the Mass were rooted in “my way or no way” they would not survive.
He returned to the wedding rite exhortation: “No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on.”