Couples renew marriage vows, look to Eucharist for strength

“Marriage is the noble institution of Christ that enables two people to share together and concurrently in the gift of the Eucharistic life.” – Father Henri Caffarel, founder of ‘Teams of Our Lady’

GARY – Approximately 70 couples from around the Diocese of Gary arrived at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels on June 2 to participate in a Wedding Anniversary Mass, celebrating the time they said “I do” in front of family, friends and God. Bishop Robert J. McClory presided over the service, which coincided with the liturgy of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi.
“We know that marriages are strengthened by the Holy Eucharist, so we come here today recognizing the great gift that we have in calling upon the mercy of the Lord,” the bishop said.
In the homily, Bishop McClory spoke of French priest Heri Caffarel, who dedicated his life studying how the priesthood and Eucharist could be used to support marriage. The bishop also read aloud the words of Jesus on the gift of His body and blood, referencing the Gospel of John: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him,” and the Gospel of Mark: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’”
“As you feast upon Jesus, your marriage is strengthened, your life is renewed, and your love should have a different quality,” said Bishop McClory.
The bishop, noting the ordination of two priests in the Diocese of Gary that took place on June 1, discussed how sacraments can work together. He explained that there are sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist) and sacraments of healing (reconciliation and anointing of the sick), while priestly ordination and marriage are sacraments of service.
“Your marriage is your gift to your husband, your gift to your wife, so that they – the one to whom you are married – have a better chance of making it to heaven because they are married to you than if they weren’t,” he said. “And that’s vice versa; that together your love for each other is designed not just so you can feel better, but it's almost always about the other.” 
Bishop McClory encouraged the couples to turn to Jesus in times of need and trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede on their behalf. He said a married couple receiving the Holy Eucharist should use it as strength and reflect together on what the Lord might be asking of them. 
He reminded the couples to ask for help and guidance when making important life decisions – where to live, what jobs to accept, financial matters and when to retire. “Whatever it is, call upon the Lord,” he said, “because that’s what makes Christian marriage so beautiful.”
Bishop McClory also pointed out that by coming to the cathedral, the couples were making a public witness that they want Jesus to be more embedded in their marriage. He asked the couples to stand for a blessing and to renew their vows.
“My dear friends, in commemoration of the anniversary of that celebration in which you all joined your lives in an unbreakable bond through the sacrament of matrimony, you now intend to renew before the Lord the promises you made to one another,” he said. “Turn to the Lord in prayer, that these vows may be strengthened by divine grace.”
Edward and Pat Hren knew the annual Mass was a tradition within the diocese and were reminded of it by an announcement in the Northwest Indiana Catholic. 
The Hrens, one of 17 registered couples marking 50 years of marriage, were introduced to one another at a single adults club while Patricia was living in Hammond and Edward in Hebron. 
They were later married at St. John Bosco in Hammond and currently reside in Hebron, where they attend Masses at St. Helen.
“It’s belonging to a bigger family that loves God and it’s so good to be able to come together and pray together,” said Patricia in reflecting on the importance of the Catholic faith in their marriage. “The Church is a loving support with the people and the sacraments – giving and caring.” 
What is heir advice for a lasting marriage? “Keeping your mouth shut,” joked Edward. “It’s hard sometimes.” 
Edward and Shirley Markovich of Whiting first met at a bowling alley and are celebrating 51 years of marriage this year. Shirley said it’s been helpful in their relationship to “take one day at a time and be happy and be grateful – and we are grateful for each other.”
Edward Markovich believes four words became important for him to learn during their marriage  – “You’re right. I’m sorry.” 
“When I mention that to other couples they laugh, but it’s really not a laughing matter. I think it helped us reach this milestone,” he said.
The Markovichs are members of St. John the Baptist in Whiting. Shirley Markovich said they have always had “a strong belief in God and have tried to raise our family religiously and just be kind to people.”
In 1977, on a blind date, Mike Jankowicz met Karen Kinsey. Married for 45 years, Karen said their marriage has always “just sort of worked.”
“You have to work together and listen to each other's views; and sometimes you have to compromise,” added Mike.
When asked if they felt their faith has helped in their marriage, both quickly responded “definitely.” After living in Hobart and attending St. Bridget for 43 years, they moved to Crown Point two years ago and joined St. Matthias. 
Following the liturgy, Bishop McClory greeted couples and posed for photographs while refreshments were served in the school cafeteria.
The annual marriage anniversary celebration is part of the Marriage and Family Life Ministry under the Office of Missionary Discipleship and Evangelization. Visit


Caption: Daniel and Elsie Ponce celebrate 50 years of marriage while attending the Wedding Anniversary Mass on June 2 at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary. The Highland couple met in high school and said they have made their marriage last with love, respect and patient. (Erin Ciszczon photo)