100 couples celebrate the gifts of love, faith, and family at Anniversary Mass

Sam and Cheryl Pagoria gaze at one another as Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka offers a blessing over couples attending the Diocese of Peoria’s Anniversary Mass on Sept. 26 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The Pagorias, members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Spring Valley, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2021. (For The Catholic Post/Daryl Wilson)

The “gift of love” was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Sept. 26 when nearly 100 couples from throughout the Diocese of Peoria who are observing silver and golden wedding anniversaries in 2021 gathered for a Mass celebrated by Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka.

“Your perseverance, your loyalty to one another, is not just a gift to you and your families, but is a gift to the church and our world,” said Bishop Tylka in his homily at the annual Anniversary Mass.

Posing for a photo with Bishop Tylka following the Anniversary Mass are Vicki and Scott Shroyer, members of Epiphany Parish in Normal who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2021. (For The Catholic Post/Daryl Wilson)

Minutes later, he offered a prayer of blessing over the anniversary couples as they stood, faced one another, and joined hands just as they had on their wedding day. Sixty-four golden anniversary couples and 33 silver anniversary couples were present, according to the diocesan Office of Family Life.

Calling the couples “an image of Christ’s union with the church” for their faithfulness through joys and struggles, Bishop Tylka prayed that God would “renew their marriage covenant each day, increase their charity, and strengthen them in the bond of peace so that — together with the circle of their family and friends who surround them — they may enjoy your blessings.”

The bishop then invited the couples to kiss. They happily obliged, lowering their face coverings for just a moment.

Karen and Jim Coté, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, join hands as Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka offers a blessing over couples observing golden and silver anniversaries in 2021. The Cotés are members of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights. (For The Catholic Post/Daryl Wilson)

Friends and family members of the anniversary couples were also present for the Sunday afternoon Mass. The first and second readings were specially chosen for the occasion — including St. Paul’s reflection on the characteristics of love found in his first letter to the Corinthians.

“The love that St. Paul is writing about is a love that is demonstrated most perfectly to us in Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Tylka, “the one who was willing to give himself completely for us.”

“Has your love been perfect?” he asked the couples. “Probably not. There have probably been bumps in the road, difficulties and challenges.

“But there have also been great joys,” he continued, “great opportunities, and the gift of family and friends who have in their own lives been shaped by your loyalty, your faithfulness, your commitment to love — to love in the way that God wants you to love each other. A love that is self-sacrificing and generous, a love that seeks to complement and build up the other, a love that is free, and is also fulfilled in your spouse.”

Following the Mass, the couples were invited into the cathedral sanctuary to greet Bishop Tylka and pose for photos. The Mass was livestreamed on the diocesan website and may be viewed here.

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

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