By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Thirty-four couples celebrating between 25 and 71 years of marriage received a blessing from Bishop Joseph Kopacz and renewed their Christian commitment during the annual World Marriage Day Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Sunday, Feb. 22.
Present at the celebration were three couples celebrating their 60th anniversary, nine celebrating their 50th, 13 couples celebrating their 25th, one celebrating 71 years as well as others celebrating other anniversaries.
Jennifer Eidt, coordinator for the Office of Family Ministry, welcomed the couples and in her message noted that a marriage can’t 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’s a decision to look, act and pray for the good in the people we say we love.”
The sacrament of marriage, she said, 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.” She closed by thanking them for their living witness and faithfulness to the sacrament of marriage. “Your are each truly a light to the world.”
Rosemary and Edwin Merriman, members of Grenada St. Peter Parish, was the oldest couple who attended the Mass to celebrate their 71 years of marriage. During the year they married, 1944, Edwin was flying planes in World War II. He said that was a difficult time in his life but soon the war was over and he was able to return home.
Now he thanks God for keeping him and his wife together during these many years of marriage. “It has been a joy,” said Rosemary who is 90 and seems full of life. “I have tried to make Edwin leave but he wouldn’t leave me,” she said jokingly. The Merrimans married at Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish.
A couple from Yazoo City St. Mary Parish, Mabel and Charles Jordan, are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year but were unable to attend.
Mary Ann and Jerry Simmons, who are members of the Cathedral of St. Peter, said of the celebration, “It was a wonderful thing to witness the reaffirmation of the sacrament of matrimony by so many in our church family.” And about their married life, they noted, “How blessed we are to have had each other for half a century. Someone to love and stand by you, till the end of time.”
We can all imagine the many blessings and wonderful time together all these families have had during their married lives and as Bishop Kopacz said in his homily, that no other relationship fully symbolizes life and love as marriage. “We call and celebrate this life and love in Christ a sacrament because it reflects the eternal love of Christ for his church.”
Bishop Kopacz mentioned the words in the letter to the Ephesians, “. . . husbands, love your wives as Christ loves his church.” He read a couple of reflections written by some of the bishops of this country in regard of the sacrament of marriage. He also mentioned that it was a blessing for the church and for all present to celebrate the life of marriage in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life. “Both of you are partners – as male and female complement one another – religious life and marriage also complement the very graces of God.”
Patricia Hernández and Silvano Beristain from Tupelo St. James Parish, are celebrating 26 years of life together. Patricia thinks that this celebration is more important that the first one because they have been together all these many years. She says some couples don’t remain together. She credits some of their success to the example of both of their parents who were together for more than 50 years and always said “marriage is forever.”
By Elsa Baughman