All parishes encouraged to mark World Marriage Day
Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - Bishop James Conley will celebrate the annual Joy and Hope Mass at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln Feb. 11.
This Mass, celebrated on World Marriage Day (the Sunday closest to St. Valentine’s Day), will recognize couples celebrating 10, 25, 40 and 50 or more years of marriage.
Father Sean Kilcawley, the director of the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Lincoln, said, “This is time set aside for couples who are celebrating significant anniversaries of their witness to fidelity.”
The Joy and Hope Mass has been celebrated for more than 20 years, and while it was held for the couples and their families during the afternoon in the past, the decision was made to celebrate it during one of Cathedral’s public Masses this year, so that the parishioners at the mother church of the diocese can see the example of faithful couples.
Within the context of the liturgy, the couples will be invited to renew the commitment that they made to each other on their wedding day. They will also receive a special blessing after the Our Father.
“In past years, the Joy and Hope Anniversary Mass was a time set aside for couples and their families,” Father Kilcawley explained. “The liturgy was usually a special Mass in the afternoon with the bishop, and a reception followed.
“During the past couple of years,” he continued,” the Cathedral seemed noticeably empty during the celebration. In our time, we need witnesses. All of us are blessed by the witness of couples who have lived the vocation to marriage faithfully for 25, 30, 50 years and longer.”
He said it is also his hope, as well as Bishop Conley’s, that each parish observe World Marriage Day and that each parish “has the opportunity to be blessed by the witness of faithful married life in their proper parish.”
As in the past, any couple is welcome to attend the observance of World Marriage Day at the Cathedral with Bishop Conley. After the Mass, a reception will be held in the basement of the church.
“Our tradition is that couples bring their wedding photos to be displayed in the hall during the reception,” Father Kilcawley said. He believes that this will be another opportunity for the couples to be a witness to the parishioners at the event.
He added that many cultural commentators are observing that young people in our time seem to be avoiding marriage, or that they fear commitment, thinking, “something better is bound to come around.” But this trend is all the more reason for people to hold up witnesses to the beauty, goodness and joy of faithful, and faith-filled married life, he said.
“A scary thing for some young people is the word ‘forever,’” Father Kilcawley said, “and I believe in having that witness so young people can see that and be inspired by it. I think it’s inspiring to see a couple that’s been married longer than I’ve been alive,” he said.
Couples can reserve their spot at the Joy and Hope Mass by calling the Family Life Office at 402-473-0620, or by filling out a registration form available in their parish office.