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“Benchmark Anniversary” Celebration

Approximately one year ago, I received a request from a long-time (22 years) parish couple regarding celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The dignity and sacredness of the Sacrament of Matrimony has been severely assaulted by homosexual, lesbian and political activists throughout this past decade. Therefore, I want to (and do) take advantage of applauding the anniversaries of these successful holy unions with monthly naming, recognition and congregational applause at all weekend Masses.

I decided to accommodate this couple’s request to celebrate a Mass on the occasion of their golden anniversary (which just took place yesterday, Saturday). Immediately after granting this special request, our parish office received a flood of calls from others, requesting a similar time commitment for a special Mass to celebrate their next anniversary. Requests even coming from non-parishioners…as word had evidently spread quickly. With weekends normally preserved for the occasion of weddings, funerals, Baptisms, house blessings, Communion to the home-bound and hospitalized, in addition to the regular weekend Masses, Confessions, RCIA, Youth Group meetings and homily preparation, this spurred further scrutiny as to appropriateness, practicality, and time committal for our church and facilities scheduling.

Based on the idea set forth by the Diocese and Bishop Estevez, (which I relate in the next paragraph), and after counselling with many other parishes, we have decided to provide an annual parish-wide “Benchmark Anniversary” celebration and commemoration Mass. A date for this year will determined shortly. I might mention at the onset, although the phrase is often used, that there is really no such thing as a “Renewal of Wedding Vows”, since vows are a covenant made with God, which lasts for one’s entire mortal life, binding one another in the male/female marriage bond until the end of time, or until the death of a spouse. This Mass will be celebrated to honor, commemorate, and bless long-term marriages.

Our Bishop has begun offering an annual diocese-wide gathering of couples who are celebrating “bench-mark year” wedding anniversaries. To participate in this Anniversary Celebration, one need only to respond to the open invitation which is extended by the Bishop, to only those couples celebrating these specific bench-mark anniversaries: 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 or more years. This year this “Wedding Anniversary Celebration” will take place at 1:00 PM on October 28th at Holy Family Catholic Church located at 9800 Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville. More information on this is available from the diocese website.

This celebration will consist of an individual greeting by the Bishop, followed by Holy Mass (during which the Bishop blesses each honored couple) and a then a reception after Mass. There is no cost involved. I plan to attend this celebration whenever we have any parishioner(s) participating. And, of course, I will celebrate our own Mary Queen of Heaven Wedding Anniversary Remembrance and Blessing Mass. And…I plan to be part of the standing ovation that will certainly accrue at these gatherings. Happy 50th Al and Precy Fordan!

Marriage: “The matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (CCC 1601)

Yours in Defense of the Sacredness of Marriage,