100 couples renew vows, encouraged in vocation at Diocesan Marriage Mass

Kevin and JoAnn Emery of St. Mary Parish in Metamora renew their vows at the Diocesan Marriage Mass on Feb. 13 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The Emerys celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary on Feb. 9. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

A marriage that is seen as a vocation, includes and embraces God’s love, and in which each person gives themselves fully to the other only gets better as the years pass.

That was one message that Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka shared with more than 100 couples braving frigid cold and taking pandemic precautions such as social distancing and face coverings to attend the Diocese of Peoria’s annual Marriage Mass on Feb. 13 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Jackie and Ken Hofer drop their masks for a moment to exchange a kiss after renewing their vows at the Diocesan Marriage Mass on Feb. 13 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“We may think our wedding day is the best day, but it only gets better if we live out a happy and holy, faithful marriage,” said Bishop Tylka in his homily. Moments later, he led the couples in a renewal of their marriage vows, inviting them at the end to “take down your masks quickly” to seal the vows with a kiss.

Bishop Tylka noted the annual Marriage Mass – held near Valentine’s Day — is usually followed by a dinner and a “date night,” but that aspect had to be canceled because of pandemic restrictions. “God willing, next year we’ll have a better sense of normalcy,” he told the couples.

This year’s Mass, however, did have an extra bonus — a half-hour, pre-Mass concert featuring Dr. Todd Kelly on trumpet and Maria Hercik, soprano, accompanied by Jon Kroepel, diocesan director of sacred music, on organ. Kelly and Hercik also lent their talents to the music for Mass.

In his homily, Bishop Tylka shared the story of how a young couple preparing for marriage in one of his former parishes in Chicago encountered a couple marking their 60th anniversary at a Mass. The anniversary couple’s advice — “I listened to her,” said the husband, while the wife said “we always kept our faith” — had a lasting impact on the young couple.

Charlie and Amanda Corrie of St. Philomena Parish in Peoria pose for a photo with Bishop Tylka after the Diocesan Marriage Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Feb. 13. It’s been quite a year for the Corries. Charlie came into the church last July, they were married in August, and Amanda is expecting their first child in June. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“Many of you couples here have celebrated many anniversaries and can give better advice than I about the wonderful gift of marriage,” Bishop Tylka told those assembled.

Reflecting on the Scripture readings — which included the Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana and St. Paul’s definition of love to the Corinthians — Bishop Tylka said Christian married couples are “living a vocation.”

“When you live a marriage that is a vocation that invites and draws God into your relationship, then — as we hear in the Sacred Scriptures — love will conquer all,” he said.

And like the water that Jesus turned into barrels filled with wine in his first miracle at Cana, Bishop Tylka said “there is always an abundance when marriage is rooted in a love that is divine — a love that is given by God and then lived in, with and through God. There is so much more to it that we discover as we deepen our relationship and we grow together, complement one another, challenge one another, and love one another.”

When married couples give themselves as gift to one another and to God it “brings out an abundance of the grace of God, an abundance of strength and courage, of forgiveness, hope, and love.”

Following the Mass, many of the couples came forward to have their photos taken, socially distanced, with Bishop Tylka.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Marriage Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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