By Antonina Zielinska
Having survived a total of 3,335 years of marriage, couples from throughout the diocese made a public commitment April 23 before God and the Church.
“I’m marrying the same man I married 25 years ago!” exclaimed Debbie Kamping, from St. Josaphat parish, Bayside.
Dressed all in white, Kamping said she was looking forward to the day she would renew her vows to her husband, Don, and was thrilled to see so many couples join them.
“It makes me think that there are people in the world who still love each other,” she said.
Eulalia Zamora, from SS. Simon and Jude parish, Gravesend, said she wanted to come to church to commemorate the day that changed her life 25 years ago in Mexico.
“God is everything,” she said. “He gives us each new day an opportunity to live. He gives us an opportunity to fulfill that promise we made.”
“God prepared this day so that we can be with Him,” said Eulalia’s husband, Magdaleno. “Nothing was easy. There were difficulties. But I believe in God, that what God unites man cannot break. He unites us till death. It’s His will.”
Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros joined the couples at SS. Simon and Jude Church for the annual Diocesan Eucharistic Celebration of Wedding Anniversaries.
“We are a people of faith,” he told the anniversary couples and their families. “We believe that we are here at this very moment, not because of fortune or chance, but because God called us to be here.”
“God has been with you every step of the way,” he said. “Even when you were making the wrong decision. The grace you received on your wedding day has helped you.”
Bishop Cisneros told the couples that they exemplify a love that is true, not the romanticized and commercialized love often depicted in pop culture.
“We are a sinful people, in a world emerged in sin,” he said. “The only way to understand love is at the foot of the cross.”
Carmen Vanderpool, from St. Fortunata, New Lots, said suffering does not preclude joy. As she was leaving the church, her husband of 61 years was patiently helping her with every step. She has back problems and has trouble walking, especially up and down steps. However, she said she takes joy in the fruits of her marriage.
“I’m a happy person,” she said. “I have Jesus. My children and grandchildren all come to church. They are all serious about the commitment they make to God. What else can I ask for?”
When asked about what makes for a strong marriage she said its communication and getting priorities in order.
“If you are going to make a decision don’t make it yourself,” she said. “You make a commitment with another person, but you have to make Jesus No. 1 in the decisions you make.”
The bishop told the veteran couples that it falls to them to serve as true examples in the world.
“Love demands forgiveness and mercy,” he said. “Let others understand the meaning of holiness and marriage.”
He then invited all the couples to follow in the example of the unity seen in the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by uniting as one flesh: husband, wife and the Blessed Sacrament.
“Let the Eucharist be the center of your life,” he said.
Nearly 70 couples that previously registered attended the Mass, representing 39 parishes in the diocese. Sixteen of those couples celebrated silver jubilees and 20 marked golden jubilees.
Olga and José Villacias, from St. Joseph Patron Church who have been married for 40 years, urged engaged couples to properly prepare for marriage.
“Nothing is easy,” said Antonia Ricapito from SS. Simon and Jude, who is married to Frank for 50 years. “There are good days and there are bad days.”
“You’ve got to work it out,” Frank said.
The diocesan School of Evangelization organized the Mass. To see upcoming events, visit meetmein.church.