Couples Celebrate Commitment at Wedding Anniversary Liturgies


By Tony DeGol

Little Aidan and Ava Kent surely melted hearts at this year’s Wedding Anniversary Liturgies, and they were not even the guests of honor.

The precious siblings also had the opportunity to witness something equally precious: their parents reaffirming their commitment to marriage and family.

In celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary, Shawn and Lisa Kent joined other couples who are also marking milestone wedding anniversaries this year for one of two Masses.

Sponsored by the Family Life Office of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the first Liturgy was on September 15 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona; the second was on September 22 at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown.

Husbands and wives celebrating their first, fifth, 10th, 25th, 40th, 50th, 55th, and 60th+ anniversary were invited to register for either Mass. 

Bishop Mark was the celebrant and homilist at both Liturgies, and he personally greeted each couple.

The Kents, members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Altoona, were among the youngest couples. The event gave them an opportunity to reflect on the blessings of their five year union.

“One of the things that we always talk about is that we’re a very good team, so we do pretty much everything together,” Lisa stated.

Juggling their careers and home life can be challenging, the Kents admitted, but they prioritize family time and their relationship with the Lord.

“We rely on our faith daily,” Shawn stressed. “We pray together often and we try to make Jesus part of every day of our life.” 

Alongside the Kents were couples who can boast many more years of marital experience, including those with six decades or more under their belt.

John and Jennie Frank are celebrating 66 years, and they, too, rely on their Catholic faith.

John is a regular at daily Mass at their parish, Saint Michael the Archangel in Hollidaysburg, and Jennie savors her prayer time in the morning. 

“Take one day at a time and enjoy,” urged Jennie when asked what advice she would offer younger couples.

Perseverance is the key, reminded Bruce Crawhaw. He and his bride of 60 years, Shirley, are members of Immaculate Conception Parish in Dudley.

“Most of the ones I’ve seen give up too quickly,” Bruce observed. “They don’t appreciate each other and they don’t give in to anything.”

Bishop Mark touched on the importance of staying steadfast through the tensions of married life.

“Too many persons would say the only way to resolve it is just to call it quits,” he remarked in his homily. “But as Pope Francis reminds us in his reflections on marriage and the family, it is essential to be aware that God is present in a relationship, and in a real sense, God is one of the partners in a marriage.”

Love is always a work in progress, the Bishop explained.

“And all of you here today to celebrate your anniversaries know that married life is very much a work in progress,” he added. 

Frank and Kay Roscia are perennial delights at the Wedding Anniversary Liturgies, and this year was extra special. Members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Altoona, they are celebrating their 75th anniversary and were the most senior couple at either Mass.

Not far behind with 71 years were Paul and Mary Katch, members of Saints Cyril and Methodius Parish in Windber.

By contrast, Kevin and Kelli Slonka, parishioners of Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown, were the most junior pair. They are making one year.

[Top photo: Shawn and Lisa Kent and their children, Aidan and Ava, all members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Altoona.]