Celebrating the good news of marriage

By 
  • January 31, 2014

TORONTO - Tony and Pina Manocchio met through dumb luck and a mutual friend. He was an engineering student; she studied office administration. They dated five years before their big Italian wedding. About 240 guests were invited to witness their nuptials, Pina calling it the highlight of their relationship up until that point.

Twenty-five years and three sons later, they want couples and families in Toronto to join them in celebrating Marriage Sunday.

Marriage Sunday is the second Sunday of February in the achdiocese of Toronto. It was initiated when members of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the group to which the Manocchios belong, met with Cardinal Thomas Collins seeking ways to enhance marriage in the archdiocese. Fr. John Juhl of St. Philip Neri parish was one of those members.

“I think many times in our society, we show marriage as something that’s very fragile and people get divorced and separated. We rarely hear about those marriages that have endured for years. Young couples need to know they’re not by themselves,” Juhl said.

That’s why although individual parishes can celebrate Marriage Sunday in their own unique ways, there will be a special Mass at St. Paul’s Basilica at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 where couples who have been married for 25, 40, 50 and 60 plus years are invited to attend. The cardinal will preside.

“We need to recognize that marriage is a sacrament and it’s just as important as the other sacraments, just as important as Holy Orders. We need to work together — priests and laity and marriages — to continue to spread the Kingdom of God. I think one of the great ways is through love. When love is something that’s enduring and respectable, I think people take notice of it,” Juhl said.

“Marriage is the cornerstone of family, and it’s the cornerstone of our Church. It is the underlying foundation of our society,” said Tony, who along with Pina is helping to organize Marriage Sunday celebrations at the basilica.

Tony says staying married is a challenge because people do far too much alone and they don’t see marriage as a vocation.

“Be involved in something that you can do together instead of living your married lives separately,” said Pina.

“Go on dates, go on walks, join something that you enjoy. In our case, we joined this movement of ours and we work together.”

The Manocchios have been part of Worldwide Marriage Encounter for 16 years. Tony calls it an activity that is greater than themselves.

“Every marriage needs help, and there isn’t a lot out there, so you have to go looking for it,” said Tony. “If you’re having tough times, there’s counselling... If you’re on your journey, you need help on the way in your marriage for the small things, so they don’t become big things.”

The Manocchios, reflecting on their lives together, have advice for a healthy marriage. To her younger self, Pina would say be open and let your husband know how you’re feeling. Tony would tell his younger self not to keep score of the hurts, but to “definitely keep score of the joys.”

For couples about to take vows at the altar, Tony reminds them to always remember the love that brought them together, that they each need to give 100-per-cent effort and that healthy communication is vital during the tough times. Pina adds respect each other’s opinion and make your spouse your priority.

But for couples of any age, Pina asks them to include God in their marriage.

“Don’t leave Him at the altar,” she said. “Make Him a part of your life.” She also says couples need to be capable of saying, “I’m sorry,” “I love you” and “forgive me.”

The blessings of marriage, say the Manocchios, include children, but extend beyond that.

“It’s the joy of sharing a life with somebody else and marching in a common direction together with a common objective,” said Tony, who describes his marriage with Pina as a “fantastic adventure.”

Marriage Sunday has been celebrated in the archdiocese since 2011. For information on the Worldwide Marriage Encounter retreat, visit www.wwme.org.

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