‘You have stood the test of time’

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham presents flowers to Joseph and Elizabeth McCarthy on Feb. 11, World Marriage Day, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. The McCarthys have been married for 65 years. “We had met the bishop a number of times,” Joseph says, “and it’s always been a really great experience.” -SUN PHOTOs | CHUCK WAINWRIGHT

Bishop blesses couples on World Marriage Day

By Tom Maguire

Associate editor

Married for 64 years, the wife put both hands around her husband’s free hand; his other held a cane. Married for a quarter-century, another wife stood gazing at her husband, as if frozen in devotion.

   The murmur of many couples declaring their love lent emotion to the Liturgy for World Marriage Day on Feb. 11 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.

   Bishop Robert J. Cunningham had the couples stand up and “promise to be true in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.” He had them repeat: “I will love you all the days of my life.” The couples assented softly, and they smiled and kissed.

   The bishop expressed his wishes for the peace of Christ to be always in their home; their children to bless them; their friends to console them; and all people to live in peace with them. He asked the couples to always bear witness to the love of God in this world.

   “You have stood the test of time,” Bishop Cunningham said. “You have been faithful to the vows that you made so many years ago. I offer you my prayerful best wishes and congratulations. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the witness of your lives. … Happy anniversary.”

   Some of the couples have been married for a few decades; quite a few of them are in their sixth decade together. One diocesan couple, Henry “Hank” and Jane Blizzard, have been married for 77 years. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. They live and attend Mass at The Nottingham in Jamesville and were not at the Cathedral ceremony, but their daughter, Susan Blizzard-Halleran, conveyed these comments:

   “Hank’s secret to longevity in marriage is forgiveness … and a lot of love. Jane’s comment was a lot of patience and grandchildren. There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for their grandchildren (and their children, for that matter). They have always been very close to all their grandchildren.”

   Joseph and Elizabeth McCarthy have met Bishop Cunningham many times at the World Marriage Day Mass; they have been married for 65 years. Their daughter-in-law Jacqueline McCarthy, of Saratoga Springs, cited Joseph and Elizabeth’s “love for God and each other.” She said their personalities are “caring, kind, loving.”

   Joseph and Elizabeth moved to Fayetteville about four months ago; they still attend St. Ann Church in Manlius, where they lived for 50 years.

   Joseph started working on Nov. 1, 1949, All Saints Day. “I went to 7 a.m. Mass,” he recalled, “and I asked God to help me learn the [retail] business.” He started out selling shoes and moved up in a long career in various sites as a store manager for JCPenney. He worked at the Shoppingtown Mall store in DeWitt, and he opened the JCPenney store in Carousel Center (currently Destiny USA) in 1990.

   “It takes honesty and integrity and a lot of hard work,” Joseph said of running a store, “and fairness to people that work with you. You have to have a team spirit, and it really works.”

   To be a good husband, he said, takes being “a good honest, loyal, and loving guy.”

   “He’s good. He’s good,” Elizabeth said.

   They attend Mass on Fridays at The Franciscan Place at Destiny USA. “That’s a routine,” Joseph said.

   Coffee, cupcakes, and cookies were available after the World Marriage Day Mass in the Cathedral’s gathering space, where Rick and Peg Padula, of Liverpool, were relaxing. Married for 50 years, they attend St. Daniel Church in Syracuse.

   Told that they seem happy, Peg said, “You pray, and everything works.”

   As spouses, they figure that, as Rick said, “there’s really nothing better than what you’ve got.”

   As kids they attended the former Vincentian Institute High School in Albany, where the boys were confined to the first two floors and the girls to the top two floors. The separation was monitored by nuns and brothers.

   “We were in the same building for four years but never met until after we graduated,” Peg said. “We met at a dance at Siena College that we had been invited to.”

   These days, the former Vincentian school is a senior center, “so we could go back,” Peg said with a laugh.

   Rick made truck and trailer refrigeration for Carrier Corp. for 48 years before retiring five years ago. Peg worked as a kindergarten teaching assistant at the former St. Daniel’s and St. Matthew’s schools, and then retired from the same job at Immaculate Conception School, where she still serves as a substitute.

   “He has been hardworking,” Peg said of Rick, “has taken great care of me and our family, our [three] children, [seven] grandchildren; and we have [two] great-grandchildren. … He’s just loved me.”

   “She is steadfast, dependable, and beautiful,” Rick said of Peg.

   Retirement means that Rick can finish projects, such as tinkering with their 1991 BMW convertible. “You get in the convertible and you go to the Finger Lakes and you taste wine. Stuff like that,” he said in his happy-retiree tone.

   Another couple that attends St. Daniel Church, Giuseppe and Nicolena Lattanci, couldn’t attend the Cathedral ceremony but offered comments on the phone. They have been married for 46 years, and their son, Joseph, is the head usher at St. Daniel.

   When he was younger, Giuseppe owned a barber shop in Rome, Italy. He met Nicolena when he came to this country on vacation. Now, Giuseppe owns Kasson Road Barber Shop in Camillus. “I like the people,” he said.

   “He’s a good dresser, always looks nice when he goes out,” said Nicolena, who previously did government work as a quality-control inspector on Erie Boulevard. She added: “He’s very friendly with people. That’s why he has so many customers.”

   Her husband always has his supper on the table when he comes home, Nicolena said. One niece even called her a nerd because even if she has a shower to go to, Nicolena makes sure the family has something to eat.

   “That’s the way I was brought up,” she said.

   She added: “Oh, yes, my family is numero uno.”