SCRANTON – On Sunday afternoon, 230 couples and their families celebrated their 25th and 50th anniversaries with a wedding anniversary celebration Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral.
The annual Mass gives the church community an opportunity to come together to celebrate the sacrament of marriage, Bill Genello, spokesperson for the Scranton Diocese, said.
“We look to you, our anniversary couples, for a powerful lesson and example of what it means to truly embrace the pattern of the life of Jesus in our lives,” said the Bishop of Scranton Joseph C. Bambera.
Couples from as far away as Milford came to attend the heart warming hour-and-a half-long Mass and to renew their wedding vows. Genello said an invitation was sent out to all the parishes within the 11 counties covered by the Diocese of Scranton.
The cathedral was filled to capacity with about 800 of the faithful. Other guests were directed across the street to the former Holy Cross High School of Scranton to view the ceremony on television. A reception was held in the former Holy Cross High School after the Mass.
Bambera told audience of all ages that happiness is not always a point of marriage, but there are tremendous opportunities for happiness. Marriage is filled with meaning and purpose, he said.
Reflecting back at his own parents’ 50th anniversary, the bishop recalled asking them what goes thorough a person’s mind after 50 years together.
“My father, a man of few words, responded with words of gratitude to my mother and gratitude to God for the gift of her and the family he helped bring into the world,” Bambera said.
He said his mother answered the question by saying they made commitment to each other and had to live up to that.
“She said, ‘There were struggles and joys, disappointments and good times, tears and laughter.’ She said ‘Marriage means more after 50 years because we worked at it,’ ” Bambera said.
The point of a good marriage, the bishop said, is seeking out the good in the each other and those born from the union. Recognizing this is a counter-cultural view, he said, but it is rooted in natural law based on the love Jesus had for his church.
“It is a love that found Jesus loving completely to the point of losing his life,” Bambera said.
After recognizing the effort and sacrifices the couples endured to reach the milestone, the bishop had the couples turned to face one another within the pews. Many held hands and looked deeply into each other’s eyes. The husbands began by repeating the words as Bishop Bambera renewed their wedding vows. Then the wives did the same.
After the Mass, John and Carmella Gibbons of Swoyersville said they had celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary on Feb. 2. Their secret to a long marriage was to keep their faith in God.
“You have to take the good with the bad,” Carmella said.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary this December, Nicholas and Geraldine Anzelmi of West Pittston, agreed there were tough times and good times.
Encouraged by his wife, Nicholas jokingly said they never mentioned divorce during their marriage, but murder was mentioned often.
“We were meant to be together,” Geraldine said.