Silver, gold, and much love at Diocesan Anniversary Mass
There was silver, gold, and a whole lot of love in St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.
For the first time, the annual Diocesan Anniversary Mass welcomed couples celebrating 25 years of marriage as well as those marking 50-year milestones in 2009. The cathedral pews were filled with more than 130 couples from around the diocese plus their families and friends.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of the wider invitation before asking both silver and golden anniversary couples to stand and renew their marriage vows. “Some of the older couples have a lot to teach the younger couples,” he said with a smile.
The bishop used his homily to impart a lesson of his own — that every Christian marriage includes a third Person.
“A successful marriage for those in covenant with Christ depends on Christ,” the bishop told the couples. “It is his love that sustains and supports everything we believe as church and as family.”
Citing studies that show the divorce rate is less than 1 percent when a husband and wife say even one prayer together each day, Bishop Jenky said “the more prayer, the better.” He urged parents and grandparents to teach their children how to pray by example, and “talk about your faith with them, especially at teachable moments.”
THE BISHOP repeatedly thanked and congratulated the couples for their witness of faithful love.
“You are living sacraments,” he told them. “You make Christ’s love present in the church” by modeling lasting, unconditional love that sacrifices, forgives, and puts the other first.
“I give thanks to God for the people you are,” said the bishop. “Your faith builds up my faith.”
Like a wedding, the ceremony was filled with prayers of blessing for the couples and their families. “As once you blessed the love of their youth, continue to bless their married lives together with gifts of peace and joy,” the bishop prayed at one point.
Tim Roder, director of marriage and family for the Diocese of Peoria, said more than 500 anniversary couples representing 83 parishes received an invitation from Bishop Jenky to attend the Mass. Those at Sunday’s celebration included 88 golden anniversary couples and 50 marking their silver anniversaries.
“There is so much love in this cathedral,” Bishop Jenky said at the start of Mass. “There is the love of husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters.” But all of that love, he added, is just a taste of Christ’s great love for them and the church.