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Diocese honors longtime marriages

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Warren residents Joseph and Norma Stankewich, who attend St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Warren, have been married for 65 years. The couple was among more than 50 couples who gathered Sunday at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown for the annual wedding anniversary Mass. Area couples were recognized for 25 to 69 years of marriages.

YOUNGSTOWN — Faith, commitment, and love and support for one another were key words many couples said Sunday are the reasons their marriages have lasted for many years.

Milestone weddings were celebrated Sunday at St. Columba Cathedral in the annual wedding anniversary recognition Mass led by Msgr. Robert Siffrin, diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Youngstown.

The one-hour event marked the wedding anniversaries of 87 couples for a total of 4,051 years of wedded life ranging from 25 to 69 years.

Anthony and Patricia Parish, parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica / St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Youngstown, and John and Eleanor Sciortino of St. Christine Parish, Youngstown, were celebrating 69 years of marriage this year.

Other couples celebrated were 25 couples married 51 to 66 years; 29 couples wedded 50 years; 14 couples observing 40 years; and 17 couples marking 25 years.

Joseph and Norma Stankewich of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Warren, were in the front row of the cathedral celebrating 65 years together.

“We have a lot of strength, faith and family. That are the three things that are very important to both of us and keep us together,” Norma Stankewich said.

Poland residents Michael and Marge Belcik of St. Dominic Parish in Youngstown said they credit their 64 years together of being faithful to each other and the Lord.

“Faith is so important. We are glad to be here today and want to come back next year, but you never know,” Marge Belcik said.

Warren residents James and Kathleen Sweet of St. Mary’s in Warren marked 40 years together, saying they discuss everything together. “We don’t make a decision without discussing it first with the other one,” Kathy Sweet said.

Boardman residents Ivan and Sofia Vincenzini of St. Columba Cathedral said their 50 years of marriage is having a commitment to one another.

The Vincenzinis said they enjoy attending the cathedral for worship and Ivan takes part in serving the Masses during the week.

“We are ecstatic this event was able to be held,” he said.

The wedding anniversary celebration includes renewal of marriage vows at Mass and a personalized certificate.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, some of the couples did not attend the celebration in person but participated remotely via livestreaming of the Mass through the website of the Diocese of Youngstown.

Dave Schmidt, director of Office of Pro-Life, Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese, said of the 87 couples, about 50 were in attendance, with masks required and social distancing followed. Many pews were taped off to keep people separated during the Mass.

“Each couple could decide whether they wanted to attend in person or watch the livestream,” he said.

Siffrin, who led the Mass, said what has kept the marriages together is the love the couples have for each other, the love of God, as well as patience, affection and understanding.

“It takes work to have the sanctity of marriage. What breaks up a marriage is being angry and hurtful and saying things you can’t take back. It is important that you work together as you live your lives day by day, week by week and year by year. Continue celebrating together the many years of marriage that you have based on the vows you made years ago,” Siffrin said.

Siffrin said it is important to care for one another, family and the church.

“You have an unbreakable bond as you celebrate your wedding anniversaries today,” he said.

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