Married couples across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains celebrate their faith, hope and love

By Mary Brazell, 6 November 2019
Bishop Vincent Long with couples from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains at the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

 

What do you love about each other?

An innocent question to ask couples in attendance at the annual Diocese of Parramatta Celebrating the Journey Wedding Anniversary Mass on 27 October 2019, held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.

One response I received, I was not expecting.

“Nothing,” said Noel McKertich, as his wife of 57 years, Honorine and his family laughed.

“He’s being funny,” Honorine quickly reassured me. “Everything, all things combined, the good and the bad,” she replied.

Bishop Vincent Long with Noel and Honorine McKertich at the Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Noel and Honorine, from St Anthony of Padua Parish, Toongabbie, were among the 90 couples and their families from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains honoured at the Mass.

View images from the Celebrating the Journey Wedding Anniversary Mass here or below.

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, was the principal celebrant at the Mass, which was organised by the Diocese of Parramatta’s Life, Marriage and Family Office.

“[The Mass] makes our celebration of 25 years very special,” Peter Bull from St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills, explained. “It’s a notification through the Church that we are part of a community and that community looks at Christian values through marriage.”

“It’s a good way of celebrating marriage when there is so much turmoil in relationships in the world. It’s a lovely way to highlight marriage as something really valuable and something to be endeared and protected,” Jane, Peter’s wife, added.

Bishop Vincent Long blesses couples during the Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

During his homily, Bishop Vincent gave thanks to God for the married couples and stressed the importance of the Church as a community of support for the couples.

“Brothers and sisters. Today, we join with these couples in giving thanks to God for the gift of marriage, which they have shared with each other and their loved ones

“They have sought to emulate the self-sacrificial love of Christ and I am sure they have realised how that effort often runs up against their human limitations. Today is the day to give thanks and to renew our commitment to live with the heart and the pathos of God.

“Whatever path we walk in our journey of giving and receiving love, we are not meant to be alone. We need community, and it is here that the Church has a key role, in supporting us as we strive to build love and in supporting us when our efforts collapse about us.

“May we learn to be a humble, loving people who support one another to live the Good News of Jesus. May we learn to free ourselves from narrow vision of self-interest in order to practice an integral ethic of concern and care for all of God’s people and creation, to be a community of empathy, compassion and inclusion,” Bishop Vincent said.

Bishop Vincent Long during a lunch following the Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

During the Mass, married couples were given a special blessing by Bishop Vincent and were asked to renew their matrimonial vows.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, parishioner James Sequeira, who has been married to his wife Patricia for 40 years, said “it’s great to be out here at this occasion. It’s a very special occasion for all of us and I’m glad that the Church recognises our marriage and our relationship and gives importance to the family.”

Lunch was served in the Cathedral Hall following Mass, with Bishop Vincent taking photographs with and speaking to many couples throughout the afternoon.

Couples celebrating significant anniversaries received certificates acknowledging one, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of marriage. Those who had been married for every year over 50 years also received certificates.

Bishop Vincent Long with Mario and Mary-Ann Manzano at the Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“I’m not aware of something like this in other places, so it’s a blessing,” Mario Manzano from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta said.

“It’s also good to see a lot of couples hit milestones like 40, 50, 60 [years of marriage] – it’s amazing. And it inspires you to love each other more and hit that mark as well,” Mary Ann, Mario’s wife, added.

One of the couples celebrating over 60 years of marriage were John and Mary Pauline Refalo, from Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook, who celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

“It’s very good to be able to celebrate with the Bishop,” Paul said. “You remember your marriage day, because [it’s been] a long time, it’s good to remember and to celebrate 61 years,” John said.

Bishop Vincent Long with members of the Life, Marriage and Family Office and their family members. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Karin Abrams, Coordinator – Marriage Education Support and Enrichment from the Life, Marriage and Family Office explained that the Mass “is a very important event on the Diocesan calendar each year and has been celebrated for more than 20 years.

“Many older couples bring their children and grandchildren to celebrate a milestone Wedding Anniversary. Couples appreciate having Bishop Vincent celebrate this Mass and spend time with them having a chat and a photograph taken,” she said.

And what advice do these couples have to share with newly married couples or those preparing for marriage?

“You’re not going to agree with your wife all the time, and she’s not going to agree with you all the time, [but] you’ve got to try and make her understand and she makes you understand too. You’ve got to be patient,” John Refalo said.

Bishop Vincent Long with John and Mary Pauline Refalo at the Wedding Anniversary Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“Communication would be a big one. To understand that it’s a journey that you share. That marriage doesn’t come easily, it is something that you have to work at, and find middle ground between you. It’s really something special to celebrate,” Jane said.

“Having God in the marriage, that’s very important,” Mario and Mary Ann added.

“Give it a chance – if something doesn’t work, make it work,” Chantel Adrien from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish said.

“You should never forget about your youth and your commitment before. You’ve got to have a lot of patience and learn to accept the things when they come, and if you do that, everything goes right,” Yves, Chantel’s husband, added.

“I think the greatest [advice] is love. Without that foundation, there will be no marriage,” Honorine said.

View images from the Celebrating the Journey Wedding Anniversary Mass here or below.

Celebrating the Journey - Wedding Anniversary Mass (27.10.19)

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