By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — It took a leap of faith in each other 50 years ago for the 110 married couples honored May 31 to exchange their wedding vows.
It took an even greater faith in God for them to remain true to that vocation, Diocesan Chancellor Father Kenneth Riley told them.
“Investing half a century in a loving relationship with one person is a wonderful statement about the gift and grace of true married life,” said Father Riley, who celebrated a special Mass for the couples, their children, grandchildren and friends.
Each of the couples, who came from all corners of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, renewed their vows after Father Riley’s homily, then were given a small token of the diocese’s gratitude for their faithful commitment to their vocation.
Quoting from the U.S. bishops’ 2009 pastoral letter, “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” Father Riley stressed the church’s teaching that marriage is not just for the benefit of two people.
“Yes, marriage is a deeply personal union and relationship, but it is also for the good of the church and the entire community,” the bishops wrote.
“The Second Vatican Council teaches that ‘the well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of marriage and family,” the bishops wrote.
This is why it is important to celebrate those couples who show, by example, that marriage is a lifelong vocation, Father Riley said.
“You have decided that you are devoted to your relationship no matter what, ‘until death do you part,’” Father Riley said.
And that is possible, he said, only by allowing God’s grace into the marriage.
“The tragic truth is that a husband and wife who leave God out of their marriage never really understand what it means to fully love one another,” Father Riley said.
“Spouses whose love for each other is empowered by their Christian faith are a reflection of the triune love of God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit,” he said on the day that the church also celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
“God loves us more than we could ever deserve,” Father Riley said. And the best way to accept God’s love is to show love to others selflessly.
He quoted St. John Paul II in his 1981 apostolic exhortation, On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World: “By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representation by means of the sacramental sign of the very relationship of Christ with the church.
“Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the church of what happened on the cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers,” St. John Paul II wrote.
“Thank you for having allowed God’s loving work in action in your marriage,” Father Riley said. “May your married years ahead be filled with all the grace and love that God has given and will indeed continue to bestow on each and every one of you.”
Couples who had registered through their parishes with the diocesan Office of Sacred Worship and were honored for 50 years of marriage on May 31:
St. Sabina, Belton: Joe and Susan Lager, Ron and Joan Hoffman, Tom and Judith Gudenkauf, Jim and Cheri Effertz, Marion and Mary Pat Biondo.
St. John LaLande, Blue Springs: Richard and Trudy Stacer, Raymond and Janet Lonowski, Alfred and Mary Zuniga.
St. Patrick, Butler: Raymond and Carolyn Kimminau.
St. Munchin, Cameron: Allen and Gayle Gillette.
St. Columban, Chillicothe: Thomas and Barbara Culling, David and Sharon Rupp, Gerald and Rosemarie Smith, Ken and Brenda Lauhoff.
Holy Rosary, Clinton: Kenneth and Jeanette Duncan.
St. Andrew the Apostle, Gladstone: Donald and Jessie Kittelson.
Coronation of Our Lady, Grandview: Jacque and Carol Lewis, Frank and Annette Bader.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Harrisonville: John and Loretta Rockey, Leonard and Gloria Messner.
St. Mark, Independence: Ray and Connie Bolten, Donald and Carol Eber, Phillip and Lois Mall, Barton and Ellen Bigge, Leroy and Claudia Lorenz, James and Judy Newkirk, Richard and Mary Trout.
Christ the King, Kansas City: Dick and Daffy Shaw.
Holy Family, Kansas City: James and Sandra Shaw, Tom and Carol DeMartino, Ronald and Irene Coe, George and Rose DeLisio, Jay and Tana Davis, Joseph and Victoria Guerra.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist), Kansas City: Paul and Peggy Mosbacher, Louis and Anita Medina.
St. Charles Borromeo, Kansas City: John and Millie Underhill.
St. Elizabeth, Kansas City: Michael and Mary McNamara.
St. Gabriel, Kansas City: Raymond and Connie Hollomon.
St. John Francis Regis, Kansas City: Frederick and Judith Krabbe, Michael and Helen Sheehan, James and Louise Kuchinski.
St. Matthew, Kansas City: Robert and Janice Marie, Eugene and Beverly Putthoff, Edward and Catherine Iser.
St. Thomas More, Kansas City: Bob and Mary Tavernaro, Frank and Kathleen Pace, Maurice and Mary Beth O’Sullivan, Jerry and Kay Meiners, Allan and Ann Verhulst, John and Ursula Dunnewind, Ray and Dora Muensch, Clarence and Rita Hook, Pat and Julie Donnelly, Joe and Jane Reiter, Dick and Sue Hudson, Don and Kathy Donnelly, Bill and Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Diane and Bob Easley, Patrick and Mary Galvin, Charles and Joan Barthol, Larry and Sandy Otto, Bob and Rosemary Porembski.
Holy Spirit, Lee’s Summit: Paul and Maureen Crain, Joyce and Ron Stolberg, Neva and Anthony Mistretta, Thomas and Judith Sheehan, Bob and Lenore Kinman, Bob and Wilma Mathis.
Our Lady of the Presentation, Lee’s Summit: Thomas and Norma Denner, Maurice and Patricia Bartlett, Harold and Terry Ewing, Tim and Aggie Steinman, Bob and Mary Lehmann.
St. James, Liberty: Jim and Ann Tucker, Don and JoAnn Ollier, Ron and Laverne Cropsey, Michael and Judith Newlon, Jim and Lynn Streu, Mike and Jean Reichert, Gary and Jennie Crawford, Don and Elaine Martin, John and Marianne Nauser, Rich and Ronda Novitski, Dan and Shirley Quint.
St. Gregory Barbarigo, Maryville: Richard and Madonna Pope, Melvin and Venieta Stoll, Lee and Nancy Moser.
Immaculate Conception, Montrose: Alan and Sharon Allis, Harold and Elaine Bolden, Paul and Linda Tenholder, Eugene and Roxy Rotert.
St. Jude the Apostle, Oak Grove: Jim and Carol Vanderpool, Gary and Phillis Freeman, Felix and Rose Bleyenberg.
St. Therese, Parkville: Cleo and Rosemary Nollette, Fred and Patricia LaGud.
St. Bridget, Pleasant Hill: David and Lorraine Hamilton, Pat and Trudy Garry.
Co-Cathedral, St. Joseph: John and Karen Chavez, Steve and Catherine Welsh.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph: Frank and Mary Beth Davis.
St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph: Earl and Joyce Kessler, Danny and Donna Billups.
St. Paul, Tarkio: Robert and Mary Alldredge, Bill and Cathy Peregrine.
Sacred Heart, Warrensburg: Henry and Sue Feldman, Greg and Maxine Vinardi, Dan and Susan Morgan, Robert and Marilyn Bajorin, Jerry and Sharon Franklin.