After each Anniversary Mass, couples who gathered for food and camaraderie in the respective parish halls shared stories and reflections of how they met, their experiences as a married couple and how faith has been the root of their love. The sentiments captured below are just a sampling of what the Masses meant to the couples as they marked their first, silver, golden and beyond anniversaries with the blessing of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and the support of faithful from around the Diocese.
Keeping Jesus at the Center
For Don and Kathyrn Geiger of Wayside’s St. Anselm Parish, Mass in St. Aloysius Church kindled warm memories of their courtship, which began when he was a young soldier, teaching at the all-male Pennsylvania Military College. She was among the first group of women to take classes at the school.
The chance meeting culminated in the wedding nine months later between the Catholic groom and Baptist bride, who, bolstered by the encouragement of priests along the way, would convert to Catholicism. They raised two children in the faith and now rejoice in the fact that they have six devoted grandchildren – including a seminarian grandson with the Legionaries of Christ.
“Our faith played a very important role in our lives,” Kathyrn Geiger said. “We find that without prayer, you don’t get anywhere.” A real joy, she said, is that “we know a lot of people who are praying for us every day, and we are praying for them.”
For Benjamin and Jinkee Gonzales, attending the Mass in Trenton’s Cathedral with their four children was a wonderful way to celebrate 25 years of marriage. The couple, members of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, expressed their hopes that their marriage will serve as an inspiration to their children, Priscilla, Alyssa, Kristina and Carlos.
Looking on with her siblings, Priscilla, the first-born, said it was good to be present at the celebration of faith. “Seeing it brought happiness,” she said. “They are good representatives of marriage for 25 years. That’s a long time!”
Keepsakes of the Day
At 53 and 65 respectively, Juana and Richard Saccone of St. Ann Parish, Browns Mills, said they were delighted to be celebrating the first anniversary of their marriage in the Cathedral.
“It’s a blessing to look at the size of the group and know that you are among them,” Richard Saccone said. “I am keeping every reminder of the day, especially the program, which carries the Bishop’s blessing.”
They called receiving the Bishop’s blessing a “special part of the significance” of the vows they had taken. “Being among so many beautiful families,” Richard Saccone said, added even more joy to the occasion.
Strength in Numbers
Rose and Jim Kukura of Holy Eucharist Parish, Tabernacle, walked in their own footsteps as they entered St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral to have their marriage blessed.
“We were here 25 years ago,” Jim Kukura said with a smile, explaining that the couple was blessed at that milestone. This year, they are celebrating 50 years of wedded life.
The couple, who met in a Catholic club for young adults in the 1960s, participates in marriage ministry in their parish.
“Every three weeks, we get together and share,” he said, and like the annual Anniversary Blessings, “it helps you understand that you are not alone.”
~ Compiled by Lois Rogers