ROCHESTER — Love was in the air as nearly 100 married couples renewed their wedding vows May 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
One couple had been married for just one year, two were celebrating 70 years of marriage, and the rest celebrated anniversaries in between those two extremes.
“Today we honor you, my dear sisters and brothers, and pray for you, who have made Jesus a true and intimate part of your marriage. May the Lord continue to bless you and to sustain your married life,” Bishop Salvatore R. Matano said during his homily at the Diocese of Rochester’s annual Recognition of Anniversary Couples and Marriage Jubilee Mass.
At the conclusion of the Mass, couples stood for applause as their anniversary years were called out. Bishop Matano presented potted orchids to the two longest-married couples, who each are celebrating seven decades of marriage.
“God bless all of you. You are a great gift to the church,” Bishop Matano remarked after he returned to the sanctuary.
Love sustains couple’s 70-year marriage
George and Grace Supple — one of the two couples who received an orchid — said the secret to their longevity is simple.
“We love each other,” George Supple explained.
The Supples met in a lecture hall at Syracuse University in the early 1950s and were married Aug. 29, 1953.
“I often say God found him for me and me for him. I think we’re a good match,” Grace Supple said.
“I think we complement each other well,” George Supple agreed.
Thirty-year ‘rookies’ say communication, appreciation are key
Dave and Eileen LaBorde, who will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in October, were impressed when they heard there were couples at the Mass who had been married for 70 years.
“This is a great place to come after 30 years, because with everyone else here, you still feel like a rookie,” Dave LaBorde quipped.
Although they may be “rookies” compared to the Supples, the LaBordes had no trouble identifying some of the factors that have contributed to their own marriage’s staying power. Chief among those is communication, Eileen LaBorde said.
“I mean communicating feelings, so you can be empathetic and you can know where the other person is coming from,” she explained. “Ask questions so you can know how they’re feeling.”
It’s easy for one spouse to assume he or she knows what the other spouse wants or needs, but this can lead to frustration and hurt feelings, she explained.
Spending time together as a family also is important, according to the LaBordes, who have three children and belong to St. Benedict Parish in Canandaigua and East Bloomfield.
“Appreciate the little things — nature, hiking, family events, camping. Your kids aren’t a burden. Kids are great,” Dave LaBorde said.
Married couples must grow together, cherish every day
It’s important for couples to continue to support and prioritize each other even after their children have left the nest, noted Sue Genthner. They need to grow together, recognizing that who they are in their 70s is different in some ways than who they were in their 20s, she said.
Sue and Jim Genthner, who belong to Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport, will celebrate 50 years of marriage in September. Sue and Jim met as college students when their schools — Nazareth College and St. John Fisher College, respectively — hosted a joint orientation session. They soon got engaged and were married in September 1973, just a few months after graduation.
They traveled to California shortly after their wedding and even spent a year in Taiwan, Jim Genthner said, noting that through it all, he and his bride had faith in God and in each other.
“We weren’t afraid to just do what we felt we had to do. We’d work it out,” he recalled.
Jim Genthner didn’t hesitate when asked what advice he’d give to younger couples.
“Cherish every day,” he said, smiling as his response earned him a kiss from his wife.
Every year of marriage is cause for celebration
Don and Pat Cleaver share a similar motto. When they celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1998, they realized many of their peers’ marriages hadn’t lasted, so they decided not to take their own union for granted.
“We took dance lessons, we went on our first cruise and we bought new bedroom furniture to replace our used furniture,” explained Pat Cleaver.
This June will mark 50 years of marriage for the Cleavers, who belong to Holy Family Parish in Auburn. They’re planning to celebrate with a pair of trips to walk the Way of St. Patrick and the Way of St. James, which are popular Christian pilgrimage route in Ireland and in Spain, respectively.
The Cleavers make a point of celebrating every year of their marriage, because a lasting marriage is almost counter-cultural these days, they said.
“Fifty years is such a marker … but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, and what we do here prepares us for eternity,” Pat Cleaver said.Tags: Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Catholic Marriage