150 couples renew vows at Diocesan Anniversary Mass
By: By Sandra Post
Their life stories are varied, but 150 couples celebrating golden or silver anniversaries in 2010 who gathered at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria last Sunday share common bonds of faith, values, and commitment.
“Jesus established marriage as a sacrament, an outward sign, and married couples show us what Christian love is about,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in welcoming the celebrating couples and their families to the Diocesan Anniversary Mass.
The assembly at the cathedral Sept. 26 was rich in signs of love: spouses helping each other navigate walkers or canes; parents or grandparents lovingly carrying children forward for a blessing; proud sons and daughters taking pictures of their parents as they posed afterward for photos with Bishop Jenky.
Couples also renewed their vows during the Mass, facing one another, holding hands and recommitting themselves to those promises made 25 or 50 years ago.
Bishop Jenky reminded everyone that “we love not because we are perfect or our partner is perfect. Only God is perfect. Families can disagree, but at the end of the day, you’re still family to each other.” He also told them that “Jesus calls you to paradise that knows no end but has its beginning in your married love.”
After the Mass, couples and their families were invited to the Spalding Pastoral Center for a reception. Each couple received a commemorative certificate signed by Bishop Jenky.
RECIPE FOR LASTING MARRIAGE:
FAITH, HONESTY, FORGIVENESS, LAUGHTER
Dr. Steve and Kate Smart from St. Peter’s Parish in Peoria celebrated their 25th anniversary on Aug. 3. Kate said marriage means “we become one with God and lead each other to God.” The parents of eight children, they said laughter is an integral part of their marriage.
Their 8-year-old son Andrew agreed, saying he and his siblings make their parents laugh. He added with a smile, “Sometimes we make them cry.” Kate and Steve said eating dinner together as a family is very important to them.
Louis and Theresa Granato of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline will celebrate their silver anniversary Dec. 28. The parents of seven children ranging in age from 9 to 22, they echoed Bishop Jenky’s words that no relationship is perfect.
“I used to think our differences were problems,” says Theresa, “but they’re actually good things because we complement each other.” She also emphasized the necessity of complete honesty in a marriage.
Among the golden anniversary couples present were Mike and Bonnie Kumer, members of St. Monica’s Parish in East Peoria. Learning to forgive is a fundamental part of marriage, they told The Catholic Post.
“With God’s grace and a lot of forgiveness on both sides,” is what Bonnie says helped her and Mike reach their 50th anniversary. She quoted a Kumer family saying that goes, “Get it out, get over it, and get on with life.” Bonnie also said it’s necessary to think about the other person, especially during difficult times. “Put the ‘we’ in marriage before the ‘I,'” she said.
Craig Dyke, associate director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, said 655 people were registered for the day’s celebration, including the 150 couples and their families.
“It is very encouraging to see all those couples celebrate marriage in a culture where marriage is on the decline,” said Dyke. “It’s always good to see those who have persevered. We were very excited about the aniversary celebration.”
While not every couple may have been married under sunny skies 25 or 50 years ago, when they left the cathedral Sunday after their renewal of vows, the sun was shining brightly.
Art and Holly Hanley, a silver anniversary couple from St. Philomena’sarish in Peoria, believes in shining the light of faith in their marriage and their family, which includes eight children. The family prays the rosary each day.
The Hanleys hope their strong love and faith help them return to the cathedral to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 25 years. When asked if marriage is difficult, Holly immediately answered, “Not with a wonderful husband.”