Celebrating the gift of marriage

By Elsa Baughaman
JACKSON – John and Camille Barranco say they owe the success of their marriage to the ability to get above their differences and to know what God wants in their relationship. “With all the ups and downs we have gone through during these many years, the sadness and the joy, he has brought us through,” said Camille.

The Barrancos are members of Jackson St. Richard Parish and are celebrating 64 years of marriage this year. They were one of the 36 couples who attended a Mass in honor of World Marriage Day at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on Sunday, Feb. 9.  They have five children, 12 grandchildren and a great-grandaughter.

Late last year, the Office of Family Ministry mailed 103 invitations to couples in 24 parishes in the diocese. Present at the ceremony were five couples celebrating their 60th anniversary, 11  celebrating their 50th, 15 celebrating their 25th, one each celebrating their 65th, 64th, 52nd, 49th, and 20th.

Jennifer Eidt, coordinator for the Office of Family Ministry, said the church teaches  when a man and woman vow to be true in good times and bad, they are confirming a decision to love one another. “And, as married couples have taught us, this decision to love one another is one we have to make over and over again.”

She said in the marriage preparation program for the newly engaged offered by her office, one of the many lessons they discuss with the couples anticipating marriage is that “marriage requires work and work is not always fun.”

“A marriage cannot be built in a day. It requires a lifetime of love, effort, joy and pain, and the constant hope of what is yet to come. It is a decision to look, act and pray for the good in the people we say we love.”

Eidt pointed out marriage is a pledge of fidelity. “Our world desperately needs living witnesses to fidelity. These are the most convincing signs of the love that Christ has for each of us. The sacrament of marriage is meant to be a sign of God’s love for humanity and Christ’s love for his church.

“Couples and families who are living faithful lives of mutual love and support, though not without difficulties, have the gratitude of the whole church.”

Eidt finished her presentation by telling the couples they are each truly a light to the world.
Juan and Maribel Melo said unconditional love, patience, understanding and knowing what to argue about has kept them together for 26 years.  During the special anniversary Mass, celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, the couples made the covenant renewal of Christian commitment and the renewal of marriage vows.

In his homily, Bishop Kopacz pointed out that marriage is successful through perseverance coupled with togetherness in experiences during stressful and joyful times. “A sense of humor is a key component,” he said while reminiscing about his parents married life. “Reflection of your parents’ actions can lead to success with your children and family.”

Bishop Kopacz mentioned his parents were married 51 years and in those days,  he said, things were stressful but they did everything together, that was important, he noted.

He also reflected on the Gospel of Matthew telling them their lives as couples are like the salt and light of the world and should be an example for others and for their own families. “Few days ago I deepened the union I shared with Jesus Christ in the sacrament of Holy Orders. Bishop Kopacz presented each couple a certificate of recognition.

At the reception, John Barranco, looking at his wife and daughter, wittily said their marriage has prevailed because of his obedience to his wife. “I say ‘yes’ to everything she says,” he said with a big smile.