By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Thirty-two couples from 24 parishes in the Diocese of Davenport renewed their commitment to each other during the 50+ wedding anniversary Mass Oct. 15 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. This was Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula’s last diocesan-wide event before his installation as Archbishop of the Dubuque Archdiocese.
All couples attending this year’s Mass were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, said Marianne Agnoli, diocesan marriage and family life coordinator.
During his homily, Archbishop-elect Zinkula referred to the comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” focusing on a strip about the six stages of marriage. Each panel identified a stage, beginning with this one: “You are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” The 100+ people in the cathedral laughed. The following panels read: “You are not as great as I thought;” “You need to be changed;” “You can’t be changed;” “I accept you as you are.” The final panel read, “You are the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” accompanied by an illustration of a husband with a cane by his side, sitting at the grave of his wife.
“In the Old Testament, God uses the analogy of marriage to describe his relationship with his people. In the New Testament, the relationship between husband and wife is presented as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and his Church. In other words, the union of a man and woman in marriage reflects the union of Christ and his Church,” the archbishop-elect said.
He referenced other scriptural passages. Jesus’ first miracle took place at the wedding feast in Cana in the Gospel of John. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians instructs “husbands to love your wives as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her.” In Revelation, the Church is presented as the bride of Christ. At the second coming of Christ, “a new heaven and a new earth will be joined together like a bride and groom together on their wedding day and celebrating a wedding feast.”
Archbishop-elect Zinkula said to the couples, “I can’t even imagine all of the hard stuff you have dealt with in your marriage and families over 50+ years. The challenges, struggles, tensions, conflicts and losses. Physical, personal, moral or special crises — these caused sadness, anger, pain, disappointment, discouragement.”
“In the midst of your difficulties, you hung in there. Just as Jesus hung in there during his passion. He did so literally on the cross,” the archbishop-elect said. “Over the course of 50+ years you have experienced lots of hard stuff. But you also have experienced lots more good stuff — resurrections, transformations, new life. God has given you, through the sacrament of marriage, the love, grace and mercy you needed to keep the promises you made on your wedding day, and to live the covenant of marriage. This is what we are celebrating with great joy this afternoon.”
Following Mass, the couples received a prayer book from Archbishop-elect Zinkula and enjoyed a reception in the grand hall.
Laverne and Roseanne Kriegel of St. Patrick Parish in Brooklyn were married in that church 50 years ago. They attended the anniversary Mass with their daughter, who saw an announcement in her parish bulletin. The key to remaining married for 50 years is “patience,” the couple said together.
Dale and Pam Walter of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg were married 50 years ago at the former St. Joseph Church in Parnell. “I have always wanted to be invited to this Mass to mark our 50th,” Pam said. “We knew the bishop was leaving. So we were glad to be invited to celebrate Mass with him. It really mean a lot to us. And the Mass was beautiful.”