By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — This was one of his favorite days, Bishop Robert W. Finn told 137 couples and their families June 23 as he celebrated Mass in honor of their 50 years of devoted, faithful marriage.
“We have so many faithful married couples in our diocese, and we are again blessed to have a good showing,” he said to a Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception filled with the couples, their children, their grandchildren and their friends.
This year’s celebration is even more meaningful during the Year of Faith, he said.
“When Pope Benedict announced the Year of Faith, he reminded us that the culture of the world has changed,” the bishop said. “We may not take for granted that our Catholic faith will be accepted and supported by the world in the same way it once was. This is certainly true concerning marriage.”
Married couples face new challenges in the modern culture, Bishop Finn said.
“Today, the very meaning of marriage as the exclusive, lifelong commitment of one man to one woman and open to God’s gift of children is challenged in so many ways,” he said.
“A fitting part of our prayer today can be not only for married couples to persevere in the faithful living out of their sacrament and vocation with all the challenges any couple faces,” he said. “But also, we pray for the protection of the authentic meaning and identity of marriage in our country and in the world at large.”
Like a husband and wife who has remained committed to each other for 50 years, so is God committed to his people, Bishop Finn said.
“God is faithful to us,” he said. “He is with us always, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, even through death. And your vocation is to be faithful to God as God is faithful to us.”
The very presence of so many devoted couples offers testimony to the strength of a faithful marriage, Bishop Finn said.
“Your families would not likely say that marriage and family life is always easy,” he said.
“Indeed, so many sacrifices are required to make married life work, but at the same time, we see in your presence today a strong sign of the truth and power of God’s design for married life,” Bishop Finn said.
“We can be selfish. We can become impatient especially with those we know well. We can take for granted at times, even those we love the most. We can become focused on material things,” he said.
“But the faithful God keeps forgiving us and calling us back,” he said. “It is the model of forgiveness and rededication that makes marriage work. God’s enduring love helps us never give up.”
Bishop Finn told the couples that through their dedication, they have fortified the church.
“St. Paul teaches us that the love of husbands and wives is a living sign and reminder of Christ’s love for the church,” he said.
“You make possible by your generous service, your prayer and encouragement, tremendous works in the church and the world,” he said.
“We are proud in a fitting way that the Catholic Church is second to none in charity and service, in care of those in deed, in foreign missions, in Catholic education at all levels,” Bishop Finn said. “I thank you for the faith with which you give yourself, in your parishes, in your communities, in our diocese, to this mission of Christ’s church.”
Bishop Finn reminded the couples that not only is Jesus at the center of their marriages, his mother is also at his side.
“As Mary obtained from her son the very first of his miracles on behalf of a married couple at the wedding feast of Cana, the church entrusts you jubilarians to her again, confident she will never fail to bring your prayers before her divine son,” he said.
“With Mary, let us pray for a gracious and powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon each person, upon your marriages and families, upon our diocese and our community,” Bishop Finn said.
“Pray that the meaning of marriage will not be confused or lost,” he said. “Pray that in this Year of Faith, we will be more faithful, that we live out our Catholic faith more fully, even when it is challenged.”
The couples celebrating their golden anniversaries were:
Blessed Sacrament Parish, Bethany: Glenn and Beverly Cochrane.
Coronation Of Our Lady Parish, Grandview: Thomas and Sharon Hemsath, Robert and Sandra Meyers, Bernard and Elaine Schendt.
Christ the King Parish, Kansas City: Ron and Mary Hooper, James and Mary Katherine Whalen.
Church of the Annunciation Parish, Kearney: Jim and Joyce Conley, Wayne and Sue DeWald, Larry and Ann Smith.
Church of the Holy Martyrs Parish, Kansas City: Pham van Dong and Nguyen Thi Mung.
Guardian Angels Parish, Kansas City: Francis and Angelina Falcon.
Holy Family Parish, Kansas City: Henry and Mary Kaminski, Hugh and Geraldine Kissinger, Dominic and JoBeth Miceli, Ben and Carolyn Ortega.
Holy Rosary Parish, Clinton: Louis and Marsha Diebold.
Holy Spirit Parish, Lee’s Summit: Ed and Regina Cahill, Wes and Dalene DeMarco, Tom and Janice Setter.
Holy Trinity Parish, Weston: Dennis and Karen Lau, David and Anita Schreiner.
Immaculate Conception Parish, Montrose: Samuel D. and Rose “Donna” Brownsberger.
Nativity of Mary Parish, Independence: Leonard and Mary Goebel.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, St. Joseph: Arnold and Beth Freidel, Clifton and Janis Hibbs, Larry and Marsha Orth.
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Harrisonville: Robert and Pearl Gibson, Ron and Ellen Meyer.
Our Lady of the Presentation Parish, Lee’s Summit: Mel and Diana Carey, Jim and Mary Kemp, Fred and Norma Kozisek, John and Mary Ann Thies.
Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Kansas City: Richard and Leslie Sturm.
Sacred Heart Parish, Warrensburg: Omer and Shirley Frank, Edwin and Lynda Quistorff.
St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Gladstone: Kenny and Linda Benso, Arthur and Christina Florez.
St. Ann Parish, Independence: Larry and Delores Birch.
St. Ann Parish, Plattsburg: JC and Colleen Roberts.
St. Bernadette Parish, Kansas City: Benjamin and Sondra Arcano, Edward and Juanita Columbus, John and Bernadette Tyler.
St. Bridget Parish, Pleasant Hill: William and Linda Heintzelman.
St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Kansas City: Jack and Ellen Butler, John and Naoma DeVaul, Joseph and Frances Fusco, Linus and Peggy Goth, Mike and Diane Russell.
St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Kansas City: Anthony and Janet Berls, Richard and Shirley Nagy, Richard and Mary Jo Scheetz, Gerald and Jacqueline Williams.
St. Columba Parish, Conception Junction: Curtis Daniel and Anita Farnan, Edward and Judy Holtman, Stephen and Bernadette Meyer, Lawrence and Reta Reidlinger, Ed and Betty Wonderly.
St. Columban Parish, Chillicothe: Donald and Barbara Tomasek, Hermanito and Lourdes Trinidad.
St. Francis Xavier Parish, St. Joseph: Michael and Jacqueline Comella, James and Phyllis Goerlitz, Wilfred and Joanna Jung.
St. Gabriel Archangel Parish, Kansas City: Thomas and Catherine Adams, Tom and Lota Jakobe, Robert and Elaine Kohler, Bob and Jean Vanderheiden.
St. George Parish, Odessa: Richard and Delores Heitman, Joe and Donna Wilmes, Raymond and Roberta Wilmes, Karl and Trudy Wolbert.
St. James Parish, Liberty: Larry and Ruth Anderson, Bill and Joyce Fedenhofer, Joe and Shirley Gubena, Robert and Mary Hedrick, Jim and Mary Newell, Joseph and Alvena Schuster, Don and Marilyn Werth, Michael and Carol Winkelbauer.
St. James Parish, St. Joseph: Rex and Janice Geary, Timothy and Marie Rice, Earl and Florence Sale.
St. John Francis Regis Parish, Kansas City: Mike and Kay Nash.
St. John LaLande Parish, Blue Springs: Frank and Joyce Huesgen, Roger and Mary Lee Stonfer.
St. Joseph Parish, Easton: Vernon and Mildred Ottinger.
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish, Independence: Michael and Rosemary Arnone, Urban and Wanda Hilke, Bill and Barbara Huhmann, John and Carol Rinella, Leroy and Grace Rottinghaus, Dallas and Marge Worley, Gary and Sandy Zorich.
St. Mary Parish, Independence: Roman and Herminia Gonzalez, Julio and Elizabeth Ramirez.
St. Munchin Parish, Cameron: Edward and Suzanne Swords.
St. Patrick Parish, Butler: James Philip and Margaret Hess, Donald and Hazel Lesmeister.
St. Patrick Mission, Ford City: Herbert and Virginia Derks.
St. Patrick Mission, Forest City: Alma and Charles Reilly.
St. Patrick Parish, St. Joseph: Raymond and Janet Guardado.
St. Sabina Parish, Belton: Richard and Anita Armstrong, Bob and Ilene Burns, Robert and Mary Kottenbrock, Tony and Luz Racela, Sherman and Leona Ragsdale, John and Ann Ryan.
St. Therese Parish, Parkville: Don and Rita Borraccini, Daniel and Luisa Czamanske, Nicholas and Josephine Dixon, Lloyd and Addie Horn, Don and Sue Keefer, Jesse and Anna LaPuma, Francis and Agnes Logan, James and Dorothy McKay, Wayne and Sandra Mills, Arthur and Mary Schumacher, Donald and Gloria Sigler, Richard and Virginia Ann Smith, Bob and Mary Szabo.
St. Thomas More Parish, Kansas City: Paul and Sumiko Ayer, Paul and Carol Blum, Joe and Lorene Botts, James and Carolyn Casillo, Bob and Donna Clemons, James and Patricia D’Alesio, Bob and Trudy Eberle, Merle and Alta Feuerborn, Robert and Ada Frazier, Jack and Nancy Henning, John and Alice Hoffman, John and Sandy Jungk, John and Janet Redmond.
Visitation Parish, Kansas City: Tom and Margaret Clark, Ed and Kay Dolson, Bob and Terry Fisher, Dan and Diane Hogerty.