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Long-married couples honored at special Mass

Long-married couples honored at special Mass

Bishop David Bonnar of the Youngstown Diocese, center, presided at the Mass for the married couples on Sunday. On the left, John and Mary Theresa Gabriele of Poland, parishioners of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers. The Andersons and the Gabrieles have been married for 70 years. Staff photo / Bob Coupland

YOUNGSTOWN — Saying it was a very special first for him, Bishop David Bonnar led a Mass on Sunday celebrating the wedding anniversaries of 135 couples honored for a total of 6,565 years of married life ranging from 25 to 70 years.

Among the special honorees at the celebration at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown for 70 years of marriage each were John and Marion Anderson of Cortland, parishioners of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, and John and Mary Theresa Gabriele of Poland, parishioners of Christ Our Savior Parish, Struthers.

Bonnar, bishop since January, said this was the first time he led the special marriage recognition event.

“Over the last five months that I have been bishop, I have had a lot of firsts this year. This is a very special first for me and a joyous occasion celebrating your love for one another at this wedding anniversary Mass,” Bonnar said.

The Andersons and the Gabrieles, who were all in the front pew, stood when introduced by Bonnar for a round of applause from the more than 135 couples and other guests marking their wedding milestones.

Also recognized were parents of priests who were among those celebrating milestone anniversaries.

“With anything in life, it takes time. Too often people want it all immediately. Love takes time. Marriage takes time. Family takes time. Growth takes time. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day,” Bonnar said.

He said the Mass honors all the couples for their love for one another and the fruits of their labors together, noting they are living witnesses to the power and sacrament of holy matrimony.

Bonnar said all couples know that, at times, things are not always easy and that marriages can be an everyday task, but growing together is what is important.

“You promised to love each other in good times and in bad. You are on a faithful walk with each other and with God. From the moment you walked out the doors of the church on your wedding day, you had no idea what awaited you. Today you come before God’s altar and recommit your love to Him and to each other. I want to personally thank you for your love for one another and life of fidelity and truth,” Bonnar said.

Bonnar met and had photos taken with the couples after the Mass.

He encouraged the couples to spend time together at breakfast or dinner or even enjoying ice cream, cake or another treat during the warm weather “because you deserve it.”

The couples shared the secret to 70 years of happiness.

“I married a nurse, and she took very good care of me,” John Anderson said.

“He has been easy to live with and spend my life with. That has made us happy,” Marion Anderson said.

“We put Christ first in our lives. We are blessed,” Mary Gabriele said.

“Before we were married, we were two people and now with our years together we are one. We learned to see and hear each other’s side,” John Gabriele said.

Others celebrating were 38 couples married 51 to 68 years; 60 couples wedded 50 years; 21 couples observing 40 years; and 13 couples marking 25 years.

The wedding anniversary celebration includes renewal of marriage vows at Mass and a personalized certificate. Due to COVID-19 concerns, many of the couples did not attend the celebration in person but participated remotely via livestream.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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