Nearly 100 anniversary couples renew marriage vows at cathedral Mass
Whether they met in kindergarten, at college, on a blind date, or in some other way, the anniversary couples celebrating milestone years of marriage Sept. 24 at St. Mary’s Cathedral acknowledged they’ve had help along the way.
“I think we need to remember there is always three in a marriage: he and I and God,” said Barbara Pogioli, who attended the Diocese of Peoria’s annual 25th and 50th Anniversary Mass and reception with the man she married on Aug. 12, 1967 — Deacon Marty Pogioli, a permanent deacon serving at St. Joseph Parish in Pekin.
God’s presence in their marriage is “what has brought us to this point, through all the trials and tribulations and joys and celebrations,” added Barbara.
The Pogiolis were among 59 golden anniversary couples and 39 silver anniversary couples from throughout the Diocese of Peoria who renewed their marriage vows at the annual Mass, celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.
“YOU CAN FEEL THE LOVE”
“You can feel the love that fills this cathedral,” said Bishop Jenky in welcoming remarks. “The love of husband and wife, of children and parents and grandparents.”
During the Mass, Bishop Jenky prayed that God would “bless and strengthen the union of these, your servants” and compared the love between husband and wife to the supernatural union between Christ and the Church.
As in recent Anniversary Masses, the bishop’s homily included the reading of a Marriage Exhortation — a version of which was formerly part of every Catholic wedding. “A couple of years ago I came across it and decided it has perennial wisdom we can always hear anew,” said the bishop.
The text emphasizes that marriage is a holy institution established by God and calls couples to “a life of self-sacrificing love” based on Christ’s example. It also reminds them that God promises the daily help of his grace.
After reading the exhortation, Bishop Jenky asked the anniversary couples to stand, renew their marriage vows, and seal the vows with a kiss. The assembly responded with sustained applause.
Among those providing music for the celebration were choir members from Holy Family Church in Peoria. The offertory gifts were carried forward by golden anniversary couple Dick and Diane Van Bell of Christ the King Parish in Moline.
The bishop personally greeted each couple following the Mass, posing for photos in the cathedral sanctuary. The couples, their families and friends then enjoyed a reception at the Spalding Pastoral Center, where the couples received certificates signed by Bishop Jenky.
Three permanent deacon couples are among those in the diocese marking golden anniversaries in 2017. In addition to the Pogiolis, they include another couple from Pekin — Deacon Ernie and Sandy Whited — as well as Deacon Michael and Molly Mannino of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Galesburg. Deacon Whited and Deacon Mannino were readers at the Mass.
The Whiteds, in fact, had another family milestone reason for joy at the Anniversary Mass. They were joined by their three daughters, one of which — Cathy — will mark 25 years of marriage to husband Allen Shawgo on Oct. 10.
The Whiteds also celebrated with a weeklong family gathering this summer in Tennessee.
Deacon Whited recalled that his courtship with Sandy was interrupted by his call to service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1965-66.
“I told myself when I went into the army, and especially when I went overseas, that if it was meant to be, she would be waiting for me,” said Deacon Whited. “And sure enough, she was.”
The Whiteds’ wedding took place on June 24, 1967, in the St. Joseph School gymnasium because the present church in Pekin was under construction at the time.
“After the ceremony we were walking out and we were facing the scoreboard and I remember whispering to her, zero-to-zero. We’re starting even,” said Deacon Whited.
The “score” now includes 50 years, three daughters, and six grandchildren.
SWAPPING STORIES, SHARING LAUGHTER
Swapping stories at a nearby table were golden anniversary couple Ted and Jan Armstrong Wanack, who attend St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish, and Todd and Jo Ellen Lohnes of St. Mary Parish, Delavan, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on July 25.
Ted Wanack, a former school band director, has known Jo Ellen since she was a fifth grade student at Tremont Grade School.
But Jo Ellen has known her husband even longer. Asked where she and Todd met, Jo Ellen replied “Kindergarten.” They dated throughout high school and married when Jo Ellen was in college. They have five children and a son-in-law.
The Wanacks, meanwhile, met while both were studying music at Bradley University in Peoria. Married at St. Mary’s Cathedral, they have also assisted in music ministry there through the years — Ted with the cathedral brass and Jan as a cantor.
How do they keep the music playing in their marriage?
“She’s chorus and I’m instrumental,” quipped Ted. “He’s jazz and I’m classical,” said Jan, adding “It works.”
All agreed on the importance of faith in their marriage.
“It’s kept us grounded and together and helped to guide us through ups and downs and five kids,” said Todd Lohnes. “It’s the cornerstone.”
Jo Ellen said that while she and Todd are celebrating 25 years of marriage, it was “humbling” and “inspiring” to see the many golden anniversary couples at the Mass, some of whom are dealing with physical infirmities but whose love and faith have seen them through.
EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Anniversary Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook. Meanwhile, watch for a related story in the next issue of The Catholic Post.