World Marriage Day honors couples

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON — Fifty couples marking significant wedding anniversaries renewed their wedding vows Sunday, Feb. 7, during a World Marriage Day Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. More than 50 other couples were not able to attend the Mass, but were honored by the Office of Family Ministry.
World Marriage Day is an opportunity for the church to recognize couples who have sustained their commitments to one another. Pastors submit the names of couples celebrating 25 or more years of marriage to the Office of Family Ministry. Every couple is invited to the Mass, but even those who cannot come to Jackson are recognized by the bishop.
This year Betty and Tom Griffith will mark 65 years since they got married in Betty’s hometown of Mobile, Ala. Tom was a Navy pilot serving in Pensacola when they met at a dance on base. After Tom’s career in the Navy, civil aviation and then as a flight instructor, the couple retired in Meridian where they are members of St. Patrick Parish.
The Griffiths raised 10 children, five girls, five boys. Their youngest daughter is a Sister of Mercy in Savannah, Ga. The close-knit family moved all over the country. Their secret for moving with all the kids? “I’d go first by myself and Betty would follow,” laughed Tom.
“When we got married, you decided you would be married for life. It wasn’t something you played with. You have to work on it every day,” said Betty of how the couple have lasted 65 years. Tom added that her good cooking helped.
She said she would tell couples today to stop before their wedding and really reflect. “Take a look at what you are doing and really realize it’s a commitment for life,” she said. She and her husband got involved in the parish in every community where they lived and are still Mercy Associates today.
Anna and Joe Orr of Clinton Holy Savior also met at a dance. They will celebrate 50 years of marriage this year. Joe said they put planning into their marriage, discussing some heavy topics before they made the commitment.
“When Anna and I were planning on getting married we agreed that one, we wanted five children, number two, Anna would always stay at home to take care of the children and number three I would be the only one working to support the family,” said Joe.
He said the couple concentrated on keeping their family close.
“We had our children early in our marriage and they came close together, five kids in 11 years. Since our kids were so close together in age they were always close to each other and us. We went to church together every Sunday, never missing Mass.  Our kids always went to Sunday school and CYO classes.
We did a lot of things together, mostly on weekends, such as swimming, picnics, going to the zoo, movies, visiting relatives etc.,” he said. “Our marriage has been successful because we loved God, loved each other and loved our children,” Orr added.
The Orrs recommend that couples today put time into planning their family life to ensure a long, successful marriage. “Get to know each other’s parents and friends. Go to church together. Discuss education, jobs or career plans. How many children you want and who will take care of them when one or both of you are working. Don’t rush into marriage. Get to know each other and be prepared for a lifetime of marriage and family,” said Orr.
At the end of the Mass, Fran Lavelle, Director of Faith Formation, honored Jennifer Eidt, the coordinator for the Office of Family Ministry for her many years of service to the Diocese of Jackson. Eidt’s family is relocating so this is her last World Marriage Day celebration here.
The Office of Family Ministry is one of the many ministries supported by the Catholic Service Appeal. In addition to this celebration, the office provides marriage preparation programs, coordinates natural family planning training and supports other family ministry. Your donation to CSA is an important part of maintaining these services.