ROCHESTER — “Marriage is the union of mind, heart, soul and spirit — a union so intense that the two become one,” Bishop Salvatore R. Matano observed May 8 during his homily for the Diocese of Rochester’s 2022 Marriage Recognition Mass.
A few minutes later, dozens of married couples exhibited that intensity as they reiterated their mutual love and commitment.
Joining hands and gazing into each other’s eyes, the couples renewed their matrimonial vows with Bishop Matano leading them. As they finished, several participants wiped tears from their eyes.
The vows were a highlight of the annual liturgy at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Approximately 65 couples attended the Mass, which gave special recognition to those observing milestone anniversaries in 2022.
First renewal of vows
One such couple is Daniel and Bonalyn Cumberledge, who will celebrate their 5oth anniversary June 17 and were attending the Marriage Recognition Mass for the first time.
“I just felt that, this year, we were ready to do something a little extra-special,” Bonalyn remarked.
The Cumberledges were joined at the cathedral by 16 family members who observed the dual celebration of the couple’s 50th anniversary and of Mother’s Day, which also was May 8.
“We thought (attending the Mass) was a nice way to celebrate,” Bonalyn said. She and her husband, who were married in Tioga, Pa., now belong to Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brockport.
Another pair of first-time participants were P.J. and Erin-Marie Messina, who noted their 25th anniversary on Sept. 7.
“We hadn’t renewed our vows in 25 years, so I thought it would be kind of cool,” Erin-Marie said.
The Messinas traveled three hours to attend the Mass from their home in Apalachin, Tioga County, in the diocese’s extreme southeast corner. They were married in Binghamton and currently attend Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Vestal, Broome County, in the Diocese of Syracuse.
The longest-married couple at the cathedral May 8 were George and Grace Supple, who will celebrate their 69th anniversary on Aug. 29. In honor of that distinction, Bishop Matano presented them with flowers near the end of the Mass.
“We try not to miss it,” George said.
“I feel so happy here,” Grace added.
Asked what has factored into their long marriage, the Supples said good listening skills and a refusal to hold grudges are vital.
“We never go to bed mad at each other,” George noted.
Faith as cornerstone of marriage
Meanwhile, the Messinas emphasized the importance of good communication, patience and an ongoing sense of commitment in maintaining a loving relationship.
“You’re going to have ups and downs, but you’ve got to ride it out,” P.J. Messina said.
He added that he and his wife are “both on the same page” regarding church teachings on such key issues as opposition to abortion and the death penalty.
Erin-Marie agreed that practicing their Catholic faith together has greatly enhanced their marriage. “Faith is a huge part of our life,” she said.
Noting that he and Bonalyn are converts to Catholicism, Daniel Cumberledge likewise credited a strong, shared faith life for the success and longevity of their wedded union.
“It’s the cornerstone of a marriage as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It brings so much depth into the marriage.”