Working Toward a Perfect Union Worth the Effort, Bishop Tells Married Couples

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By Tony DeGol
Proclaim!

There is an old saying that talk is cheap.

For Ed and Ruth Born, however, healthy conversation is key to their long and happy union.

“Our secret was learning to talk things out with each other whenever we were hurt and not to hold it inside and to forgive,” Ruth said.

“It’s hard to do sometimes, but you have to do it, and if you don’t, it makes it worse,” added Ed.

After 61 years of marriage, the Borns, indeed, seem to know the trick to wedded bliss.

As they enjoy retirement and their five children, ten grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren, Ed and Ruth were delighted to celebrate their years together with other couples throughout the diocese marking milestone wedding anniversaries.

The Borns, members of Saint Bernard Parish in Hastings, were among the husbands and wives at the first of two Wedding Anniversary Liturgies celebrated by Bishop Mark this year. It was held on September 13 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. The second will be on September 20 at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown.

Sponsored by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Family Life Office, couples celebrating their first, fifth, 10th, 25th, 40th, 50th, 55th, and 60th+ anniversary this calendar year were invited to register through their parish.

Like all liturgical celebrations right now, couples were asked to wear masks and were seated with plenty of distance among them. Instead of coming forward for the traditional handshake with Bishop Mark, husbands and wives were asked to stand in their pew as the Family Life Director read each of the couples’ names. The same will happen at the Johnstown Mass on September 20.

At the Altoona liturgy, the Bishop remarked that he was impressed with the large turnout amid these challenging times, and he reminded the crowd that marriage has something to do with perfection.

“When a man and woman join their lives together in that perfect kind of union, they don’t lose their individual identity, but when they exchange their wedding vows, they really become something new and something so much more:  they become one united with each other and for each other,” Bishop Mark mentioned.

The perfect union is a life-long work in progress, the Bishop admitted, but couples should not be fooled into thinking that they do not have a chance at achieving perfection.

It is worth the effort, he insisted.

“Marriage is a vocation that shows the world that every one of us is called to become more and more like God,” Bishop Mark continued. “It shows us that we can reach toward perfection if we live according to the nature of God’s love. You know that God’s love is faithful, chaste, patient, kind, forgiving, and most important of all, it is merciful.”

The Bishop expressed his joy to be able to celebrate with the couples whose marriages, he noted, are works in progress. 

“We give thanks to all of you for being witnesses of what perfection really means through the good times and the bad, through times of sickness and health, through times of poverty and prosperity, through times of emptiness, and times of being filled with the love each other, the love of your children, and most especially the love of our God,” he said. “Thanks be to God for all of you celebrating your wedding anniversaries. Thank you for being salt of the earth and being a light for the world. May God continue to grant all of you many more years.”

Among the honored couples this year are some who are marking seven decades or more, including Frank and Katherine Rocia of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Altoona (76 years), Paul and Mary Katch, parishioners at Saints Cyril and Methodius in Windber (72 years), and Pete and Lena Omodio, members of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Johnstown (70 years).

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful testimony to the enduring character of marriage,” stated Andre McCarville, Director of the Offices of Family Life and Missions. “So many people think that marriages don’t last any more, and that’s not the case. Right here, we’re showing the world that not only does it happen, but these marriages can be successful, they can thrive. They can show the world the beauty of the relationship between God and His Church and how God loves us and that love is never-ending. It just keeps on going.”

Each couple is a miracle and a blessing, McCarville stressed.

“When you have that, you really do need to recognize it,” he said.

Ronald and Ruth Ann Long, celebrating 40 years, realize their decades together is a proud accomplishment.

“We do things together, but we do things apart, too,” offered Ruth Ann as a factor in their successful marriage. “We have our own separate likes and dislikes.”

Members of Holy Name Parish in Ebensburg, the Longs are blessed with two children and two grandchildren.

“Family is everything,” emphasized Ronald.

Marking five years are Dennis and Leorosie Trexler of Saint Aloysius Parish in Cresson. They are grateful for the support of their Church on their journey.

“It’s such a wonderful and holy and beautiful community,” pointed out Leorosie. “We love it. God has been so good to us.”

[Photos: (Top) Joseph and Romaine Boley, members of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Duncansville, join hands during the Blessing of Married Couples at the Wedding Anniversary Liturgy in Altoona on September 13. The Boleys are celebrating 67 years of marriage. (Inset) Dennis and Leorosie Trexler pose with Bishop Mark after the liturgy. The Trexlers, parishioners of Saint Aloysius in Cresson, are marking five years of marriage.]