Feb. 16-22, 2006
Till Death do us Part
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
World Marriage Day Celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville
“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
— John 15:12
In a world that doesn’t really believe in marriage as a lifelong commitment, it’s refreshing to know the diocese sets aside the second Sunday in February to honor married couples – especially those who have been married a long time. This year the 20th Annual World Marriage Day celebration took place at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville on Feb. 12, with Bishop James Moynihan celebrating Mass. A renewal of marriage vows for participating couples was also a part of the celebration. A reception followed in Dwyer Hall.
“We look forward to it every year,” said Veronica Tokarz. She and her husband Frank have been attending World Marriage Day for many years. “World Marriage Day ties people together — it gives them a chance to renew their vows,” said Veronica. Veronica’s faith has played an important role in the success of her marriage of almost 69 years. “I don’t know what I would do without my faith,” she remarked.
A parishioner of St. Mary of the Lake Church in Skaneateles since she was 16 years old, she has been closely involved in the parish life of her church from an early age. Even now, living across the street from St. Mary’s, Veronica unlocks the door of the church every day for Mass. “We got married in this church,” said Veronica. She feels that her marriage is very rewarding and has gotten easier throughout the years. “The longer you are married, the better it gets,” said Veronica.
“As you grow older, you don’t have the problems that you had when you were younger.” World Marriage Day honors the lifelong commitment of husband and wife and provides the visible sign of support couples need to continue to make the daily decision to love one another. The events also honor faithfulness, sacrifice and joy inherent in married life.
The idea of celebrating marriage began in Baton Rouge, La., in 1981, when couples encouraged the mayor, the governor and the bishop to proclaim St. Valentine’s Day as “We Believe in Marriage Day.” The concept was presented to and adopted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s National Leadership.
By 1982, 43 governors had officially proclaimed the day and celebrations spread to U.S military bases in several foreign countries. In 1983, the name was changed to “World Marriage Day” and the second Sunday in February was the day that was designated for it to be celebrated. John Paul II imparted his Apostolic Blessings on World Marriage Day in 1993. Since then, World Marriage Day celebrations have continued to grow and spread to more countries throughout the years. Locally, World Marriage Day is co-sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter and the diocesan Family Life Education Office. The first celebration took place in 1986. In the early days, many priests would con-celebrate the Mass with Bishop Joseph T. O’Keefe, who personally signed a special certificate for each couple. The tribute focused on couples that were celebrating 35, 40, 45 and 50+ years of marriage together.
Immaculate Conception has hosted the World Marriage Day service every year since then, except for the one year it was held at Holy Family Church in Syracuse.
Susan and Edward Judge have been World Marriage Day coordinators for the last seven years. Since 1987, through their involvement with Worldwide Marriage Encounter, they have helped out with World Marriage Day in various capacities. The couple has served as readers and Eucharistic ministers, and they have also helped out at the reception. “It is inspiring to see all the married couples who do attend — especially those who have been married 60 years and on up,” said Susan. “The Family Life Office has been very committed to recognizing the commitment of marriage.”