Hundreds of married couples in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have celebrated their love and commitment to each other during the annual Diocese of Parramatta Wedding Anniversary Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The event has been postponed for a few years due to COVID and the Cathedral was overflowing with married couples celebrating a range of anniversaries from five years to 65 years. The Mass, held on 30 October, was celebrated by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta.
“Today was very special because it had a real sense of celebration,” Sue and John DeCourcy from Christ the King Parish, North Rocks, told Catholic Outlook.
“Being part of the congregation with so many other couples who were celebrating milestone events in their marriage, I thought, was really special,” Sue said.
Bishop Vincent: Married couples emulating Christ
During the Mass, Bishop Vincent gave thanks to God for the gift of marriage, saying that the couples present emulate the self-sacrificial love of Christ.
“We honour and thank these couples for their commitment to Christian marriage and to the values of the Gospel,” he said during his homily.
“By their generosity, patience and selflessness, they model the God that Jesus revealed. Their witness in marriage is a sign of hope and renewal of God’s everlasting love to his people.”
Blessing of married couples
Following the Eucharist, Bishop Vincent blessed the couples in their marriage and invited the spouses to renew their matrimonial vows in front of family, friends, and the wider community.
For Lise and Mark Rider from the Parish of Baulkham Hills, receiving a blessing from Bishop Vincent was the cap of their year-long celebrations for their 30th anniversary.
“After 30 years of marriage and being Catholics all our lives, it’s very special to have been blessed,” Mark said.
Narciso and Ofelia Lumba from St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community, Marsden Park, was gracious to receive a blessing from Bishop Vincent as their 20th anniversary fell during lockdown.
“It’s really good that we were able to celebrate our anniversary with the broader community today. Renewing our union in the way it was celebrated today, is something that we are grateful for,” Narciso said.
“It’s important for us to renew our vows today, in a way, to remind ourselves of what we signed up for from the very beginning.”
Faith the foundation of marriage
Each of the couples explained that faith is the foundation of their marriages and shared how they live out their faith by serving their parish communities.
“Faith has been with us a long time,” Sue explained. “We’ve always attended Mass which was a significant part of our life, and around the dinner table, we would say grace before meals, which was great not just to strengthen the faith in our family, but also finding out how everyone’s day has been and praying for people we had come across in the day.”
Ofelia said, “It is the foundation of any marriage to have God at the centre of your relationship, so whatever happens in the relationship, you have someone to pray with, your husband, to pray to God to overcome whatever hurdles there may be.
“Sometimes we fall short as human beings, and when you have faith, just remember the promises of God that everything works together for good for those who trust and have faith in God.”
Advice for young married couples
These experienced couples were asked what advice they might have for those starting out their marriage journey.
“Do things together, make time for each other, share all the moments together – whether they’re sad or happy,” Lise said. “Be together, pray together.”
“Be very much part of each other’s lives,” Mark added.
John said, “find things you enjoy doing together and listen to each other.”
Sue added, “it can get very busy, you can be very busy with careers or with family, but it’s always important to make special time for each other.”
Ofelia said, “you have to spend ‘us’ time with each other. Make sure at least once a week, even though you may be busy, you continue to date, because that’s where it all started. Enjoy each other’s company each day.”
Narciso added, “draw support and blessing from God.”