By Jennifer Russell
While society is currently challenging the tenets of marriage, the Diocese of Allentown has couples strong in their vows and Sacrament. Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated the annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass Sept. 17 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown.
160 couples from all over the Diocese came together to celebrate and reaffirm their vows to one another, an increase from 121 couples in 2022. More registered couples who were unable to attend in person watched via livestream.
Many couples were celebrating milestones in their marriages, while others make it a point to come yearly no matter what anniversary they are celebrating. The largest group represented at the Mass were couples celebrating 50 or more years together.
“We are all here to give thanks to God for the Sacrament of Marriage,” said Bishop Schlert. “Today we are celebrating 9,619 years of marriage.”
Bishop Schlert’s homily focused on how couples should work on showing mercy. He encouraged all married couples to love each other fully every day and to be able to take on the challenges that the world may present by being merciful to one another. “If we don’t forgive and don’t show mercy, the byproduct will be that of resentment,” said Bishop Schlert.
Mike and Susanne Akins, who are celebrating their 53rd year of marriage, echoed what Bishop Schlert said in his homily.
“[Newly married couples] should work to develop patience,” said Susanne.
“You can’t be self-centered,” Mike added to his wife’s statement. “There will be times when you irritate each other, but you have to figure out how to forgive and work through it.”
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Schray, married for 25 years, also discussed the importance of forgiveness and patience, along with sacrifice. “The first 15 to 20 years of our marriage were a lot of sacrifice with raising five kids,” said Thomas, “but you have to work well together. We work well together.”
This sentiment was echoed in Bishop Schlert’s message, as he encouraged couples to work together and to make sure they are not “scorekeeping” as they collaborate and build their family and love each other in the way that Christ loves us. “In those times when you have to forgive your spouse, remember that you are modeling Christ when you do that and you are closing the door on future resentment.”
Rhady and David Tulloch, who have been married for three years, try to live by Bishop Schlert’s words every day of their marriage. “Marriage is all about dying to yourself … the Bishop’s words were a beautiful reminder that I choose every day to die to myself so that I can be less of myself and more of Christ for my husband, and the same goes for my children as well.”
After Mass, couples were invited to take pictures with the Bishop, and were given certificates and gifts.
Photos by Nick Chismar.
Deacon Charles and Suzanne Coyle.
Rhady and David Tulloch.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Schray.
Mike and Susanne Akins.