Guy and Patricia Peterson from St. Anthony Parish, Lake Nebagamon, celebrated their 50th anniversary alongside their daughter, Jennifer Meys, who celebrated 25 years of marriage with her husband, Gerald Meys, members of St. Anthony Parish, Superior. Here, the couples pose with Bishop James P. Powers. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

At the Diocese of Superior’s annual Mass commemorating milestone wedding anniversaries, which took place July 24 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, Bishop James P. Powers celebrated more than the married couples present.

This was the first Mass since the pandemic shutdown at which the Diocesan Chorale provided the music ministry, as well as bishop’s first Mass back with altar servers.

After Dcn. John Grek proclaimed the Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana, the bishop welcomed the 55 couples present and 19 participating remotely via Facebook livestream. Among them were the longest-married couple who registered, Emil and Frances Floytik, members of St. Therese of Lisieux, Phillips.
Bishop Powers announced how many couples were celebrating each significant anniversary: 12 couples with anniversaries of 50 years; eight of 55; and nine couples celebrating 60 years or more of marriage. Doing the math, the bishop expressed his pleasure at honoring the combined 2,388 years of “wedded bliss.”

There was a brief pause and quiet amusement rippled through the congregation. Bishop Powers looked around, responded with a drawn-out, “Okay?” and the cathedral erupted with laughter.

He went on to acknowledge the importance of the two ancient institutions of marriage and family and affirm the importance of attendees’ witness as husbands and wives, as well as the importance of their families for all the world.

“Today, we celebrate more than just the marriage license you received from the county courthouse,” the bishop said. “Today, we celebrate the supernatural reality – the covenant, not a mere human contract. The eternal promise you made to each other, not only to each other, but also to God. And the eternal promise that God made to you, however many years ago that was.”

Bishop Powers drew attention to the correlation from the beginning of John’s Gospel and that of the book of Genesis, in addition to highlighting the importance Jesus gave to marriage by making a wedding the setting for his first miracle.

“He uses this occasion – the occasion of a wedding – to announce the arrival of the Messiah,” he said. “To stress that the love, mercy and grace of our God is so abundant and overflowing … our God’s love for us is free, all we have to do is receive it, ask for it and open our hearts to receive it.”

Addressing the couples, some of whom were accompanied by their families, the bishop said, “On that day of your wedding, when you held each other’s hands, our God wrapped his hands around yours.
As you spoke your wedding vows, God promised to give you the grace and strength you needed to be true.”

He added that while Jesus didn’t promise it would always be easy, “What he did promise was that he would be with you, and give you that strength and grace you need to face the challenges, the crosses and the disappointments that would come your way.”

Quoting St. Paul’s canticle description of love, Bishop Powers declared that, holding onto each other “through it all, you have refused to take the easy way out. You have refused to quit trying and so today, we rejoice and celebrate that witness.”

“Your example of married love,” he said, “are gifts that not only enrich the church but all the world. Continue to love each other, continue to be kind to each other … continue to be that witness of God’s love to the world that you have been.”