By CECILE SAN AGUSTIN
Love was in the air at St. John Cathedral here when 150 couples from parishes across the diocese celebrated their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries at the annual diocesan Silver and Gold wedding anniversary celebration Oct. 15.
Among the happy jubilarians were seven couples celebrating milestone anniversaries - two marking 60 years, one marking 57 years, two marking 55 years, one marking 45 years and one marking 40 years.
Coordinated by the diocesan Office of Family Life, Bishop Serratelli was principal celebrant of the bilingual Mass, which was cocelebrated by several priests from around the diocese. The diocesan choir graced the congregation with the music and the N.J. District Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Color Corp also took part in the celebration.
In his opening remarks, the bishop said to the couples, "This is a wonderful occasion to celebrate your love that has endured and grown over these many years."
Like on their wedding days, the 150 couples exchanged sacred vows before Bishop Serratelli renewing their love, fidelity and commitment to each other in Holy Matrimony. The bishop presented each couple with a certificate signed by him honoring their significant anniversaries.
In his homily the bishop said, "We are celebrating a love that is truly like that of Christ. For a marriage to last a year, 25 years, 50 years and beyond, the person must look not to get but to give."
Reflecting from the day's Gospel reading about the rich young man, the bishop said, "All husbands and wives have to strive everyday to live up to the vows they made on their wedding day. Vows that make their love a selling out of all that they have and all that they are for the good of the other and a total giving to the other."
"This time of total poverty of self is not easy and in every marriage there are moments of failure, moments of taking not giving, moments of holding back not being totally committed. Yet all of you who celebrate your wedding anniversaries today come before us because, despite those moments, not only have you been faithful you have been able to be faithful because God has been faithful to the promise He made to support you in your marriage. By His grace, you have been able to give, not count the costs and offer an example to us that it is possible for each of us to follow Jesus' word and Gospel and in so doing find a rare happiness."
Some jubilarians participated in the liturgy including Kristine Beirne, a parishioner of St. Mary, Dover, celebrating her 25th anniversary with her husband Deacon Thomas Beirne. She proclaimed the first reading to the congregation. Juan Gonzalez, of Catholic Family and Community Service, proclaimed the second reading in Spanish.
Marco and Mary Mancini, parishioners of St. Mary, Paterson presented the offertory gifts to the bishop. They are the parents of Father Marc Mancini, pastor of St. Simon Parish, Green Pond.
Married on May, 20, 1956, both Mary and Marco grew up on different sides of Paterson. Marco grew up in the downtown section while Mary lived in the Totowa section.
Mary said, "I liked him from the minute I saw him at work. He went to my father's barbershop and asked for my hand in marriage."
While the couple met at a birthday party and worked for the same company, they had close ties they never knew they had. Marco had a cousin who lived on Mary's block, who happened to be a family friend of Mary's.
The Mancinis believed God definitely had something to do with their meeting and the endurance of their marriage.
Marco said, "We left it to God's blessings. We're gifted with three fine sons . We expect to continue in our marriage as long as we are healthy, stay close to God and under God's care."
Having his parents' commitment as an example, Father Mancini said, "Their commitment is an inspiration to our family. In my own vocation as a priest, it has inspired me. I have seen them committed in the majority of good times and some bad times, they have endured. Their promises to the sacrament have enabled me to endure and I recognize the seriousness of the sacrament I received."
In that same weekend, Father Mancini presided at the diocesan Engaged Encounter weekend with engaged couples preparing them for their entrance into marriage. He gave the witness of his own parents' renewal in helping the engaged couples understand the commitment of marriage.
Like the Mancini family, the bishop expressed to the anniversary couples he hoped they trusted and prayed to God for vocations within their own families through their children and grandchildren.
Following the ceremony, a light reception was held for the couples in the Bishop Rodimer Center where many of the couples met with the bishop and each other.
At the reception, John and Christine Peragallo, parishioners of St. Brendan, Clifton, expressed their joy about the celebration.
Married on Aug. 5, 1956, the couple said about the Mass. "It's great to be here. There is a great family spirit."
The couple recalls many years ago attending Pre-Cana classes together when the program was in its beginning. Because of the help the program has given them for many years the couple has helped other couples in Pre-Cana.
Christine Peragallo said, "We gave 'grandparent talks' to young couples about marriage. It helped us as much as it helped them."
For John Peragallo in giving advice to other couples, he said, "not to give up. Enjoy life every day with each other and love one another."
Geraldine and James Taormina, parishioners of St. Mary, Denville, also were at the Mass celebrating 50 years of marriage. The couple will be celebrating again next month to mark their wedding on Nov. 10, 1956.
Geraldine Taormina said, "This is a wonderful celebration and I found the bishop to be loving in his way to give us his blessing.
On their marriage, the Taormina couple said, "It is a vow made before God and you keep it through thick and thin."
Kenneth and Deborah Molnar, parishioners of St. Andrew, Clifton, were one of the couples at the Mass celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Married on Sept. 12, 1981 in St. Nicholas Church, Passaic, the couple expressed how proud and happy they were to be celebrating with the diocese and the bishop. They also shaid that being a Catholic couple is a strong part of their marriage.
Kenneth, who is a past grand knight for Knights of Columbus Perez Council, said, "It gives us the ability to look beyond what is material and focus on faith, family and having the support of the Church."