Married couples renew vows at cathedral, enjoy ‘date night’

Photo Caption: Holding 9-week-old John Paul between them, Mike and Teresa Lutz of Dunlap share a kiss after renewing their vows at the Diocesan Marriage Mass on Feb. 14.

By: By Jennifer Willems

Hollywood may have gotten all the attention on Valentine’s Day, but “Fifty Shades of Grey” couldn’t provide the example of true love shown by the couples who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria to pray together and renew their marriage vows.

Following the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, more than 100 couples gathered at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center for a Valentine Date Night. It included a candlelight dinner and program by pianist and composer Eric Genuis, who was joined by a vocalist and small ensemble of local musicians.

The Mass and date night were sponsored by the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life.

Before leading them in a renewal of their vows, Bishop Jenky told the couples he had witnessed many marriages and always worked hard to find just the right words for the homily for each couple’s wedding.

“The longer I was a priest, I realized that the couple almost never heard what you said and you were mostly . . . preaching to the married couples in the church and their family and friends,” he said. “They might hear what you are saying, but that nervous couple usually didn’t.”

To give the couples an opportunity to take in what they might have missed on their own special day, Bishop Jenky read from an exhortation on matrimony that at one time was part of every wedding.

“I don’t have to tell you that Christian marriage today is under attack,” he said. “Maybe we need those received words of tradition more than ever before.”

Taken from the Roman Missal, the exhortation encourages couples to “rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-giving.” Noting that sacrifice can be difficult, it reassures them that “only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make it a joy.”

“No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end,” Bishop Jenky read. “If true love and unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to men and women in this passing life. The rest is in the hands of God.”

After his homily, the bishop asked the couples to stand and face each other to renew their vows. They sealed those vows as they had the first time — with a kiss.

They got a chance to do it again when the celebration continued at the Spalding Pastoral Center. Deacon Bob and Theresa Sondag of Manito served as masters of ceremony for the Valentine Date Night and told the couples that at their own wedding, Father Placid Hatfield, OSB, had forgotten to tell the groom he could kiss his bride.

“Just to make that up, I think it would be nice for all of us to kiss our brides,” Deacon Sondag said. Laughing, the couples complied.

A good sense of humor is important to making marriage work, according to Susan and Patrick Doyle of St. Philomena Parish in Peoria. Married 20 years, the couple has two sons.

“You have to laugh in the good times and the bad times,” Susan said.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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