Couples renew vows at Cathedral Mass

BOSTON — Nearly 200 couples celebrating their 25th, 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries renewed their vows at a Mass presided over by Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley April 18 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

This is an age when marriage faces many challenges such as divorce, co-habitation and attempts to redefine marriage, the archbishop said in his homily to the jubilarians. “Thank you for your beautiful witness. God bless and ‘Happy Anniversary!’”

After his homily, Archbishop O’Malley asked the couples to stand and hold hands and to repeat after him the renewal of marriage vows.

Joanne Curry, director for the archdiocese’s Family-Life Office, said that the office asked parishes to submit the names of couples marking their silver, golden and diamond anniversaries. Once the names came in, Archbishop O’Malley sent the couples personal invitations for the Mass from his official residence, she explained.

Curry said she received R.S.V.P.’s for 61 couples celebrating their 25th anniversary, 72 for their 50th or 60th and one from a couple for their 55th. “Up until the last minute we were getting phone calls asking if it was still okay to come and for directions. None was turned away.”

This was her first year running the 11-year-old event, she said. Next year, Curry said that, because some couples asked, she will emphasize that families are welcome to attend.

At the door to the cathedral, as participants entered, Curry and her staff passed out 150 long-stem roses to wives and other females who joined the event, she said.

Marriage preparation counselors from throughout the archdiocese also participated in the Mass, said Kari Colella, the archdiocese’s co-coordinator of marriage ministries.

One couple had triple duty. Robert and Deborah O’Brien of St. Mary Parish, Winchester, have been marriage preparation counselors for 11 years, Robert O’Brien said. They also celebrated their 25th anniversary and brought up the gifts during the Mass.

Deborah O’Brien said that the experience gave fresh perspective to the work they do with young, engaged couples.

Although she was surprised that she and her husband were gift bearers, the biggest surprise for them was that, when the group pictures were taken with Archbishop O’Malley, the 50th anniversary group was too large for one picture and had to be broken into two, she said.

Ray and Shirley Lynch from St. Patrick Parish, Lawrence, said they were celebrating their 50th anniversary and were excited to be invited to the cathedral and to meet the archbishop for the first time.

They very seldom come to Boston, but it was worth the trip, Shirley Lynch said. “Where does the time go? It was the 25th, now it’s the 50th and we are here,” she mused.

Alan and Diane Gallotta from St. Clare Parish, Braintree, were celebrating their 25th anniversary, Diane Gallotta said. “I am so glad we were a part of this.”

They have two daughters away at college so they came by themselves and sat in the front, she continued.

Alan Gallotta said he agreed with his wife when she remarked, “It was nice to have a time for just the two of us.”