During the Mass, there were special blessings for the long-married couples.
RaÚl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice
'Faithful and forever': Diocese celebrates marriage
Anthony and Christine Romano are celebrating 54 years of marriage. "Loving one another deepens our faith," said Anthony Romano. "You gotta practice what you preach." Both are active at St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord, where they have been parishioners for 52 years. Another secret to lasting marriage? "Patience," said Christine Romano.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Couples representing almost 3,400 years of marriage filled the Cathedral of Christ the Light on Oct. 2 with promises renewed in the company of family and friends. With the brides carrying single roses, the couples walked — or wheeled — down the aisle in a happy, and ageless, procession.
"We're celebrating in honor of the sacrament of marriage," Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, said at the beginning of Mass, "honoring couples married 25 years or more.
"We priests and this bishop look at you married couples with awe, admiration and deep appreciation."
The Mass celebrated the longevity of marriages, offering an opportunity for those married 25 years or more to renew their vows. The longest-wed couple signed up for the event, Alfredo and Maria Elena Gonzalez, of St. Bede Parish in Hayward, were celebrating 68 years of marriage.
Not far behind them were Peter and Seffie Avalos, parishioners at St. Edward Church in Newark. The Avalos, who led the procession into the cathedral, were celebrating 62 years of marriage.
A key to the success of marriage?
"Patience, " Seffie Avalos said.
Pasquale and Rita Petti, of Albany, were married at St. Monica Church in Philadelphia, her home city. He's from New Jersey.
Did it feel like 62 years ago?
"Not really," he said. "We've lived every minute of it."
There was a lot of sharing of credit with spouses. "He's a very good man," said Gloria Ramirez,, as she and her husband Rafael waited for the Mass to begin. They were married 44 years ago at the church of the Sacred Heart in Mexico City, and now are parishioners at St. Felicitas in San Leandro.
In his homily, the bishop said of marriage, "It is faithful and forever and it brings new life."
But he acknowledged that marriage can be challenging. "I'm also a realist," he said.
"Thank you for preserving in your vocation," the bishop told the married couples. "You are a sign of God's great love for us."
After Mass, Renato and Corazon Visalda, married 35 years, asked to have their wedding rings blessed.
Their secret to a long and happy marriage?
"Say yes all the time."
Martin and Leticia Ramirez's guests joined the Newark couple as they celebrated 25 years of marriage.
"They set the standard," said their son, Gerardo Ramirez, who was about to celebrate his 21st birthday.
"It gives me the inspiration to become them," said Gabby Saucedo 22.
After Mass, the couples gathered in the event center to take photos with the bishop, smile at a slideshow of wedding photos they had provided, and enjoy reception food. There was cake, and this time they didn't have to cut it themselves.
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