HAMILTON, ONT. - What is the secret to a long and happy marriage? Communication and being able to understand each other’s point of view, say Eugene and Regina Jasin. They should know — the couple, natives of Lithuania, are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year.

They were among 475 couples recognized by the diocese of Hamilton for celebrating 25, 40, 50 and 60 or more years of married life in 2012 during the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Sept. 9. The Mass was celebrated by Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby.

The Jasins said although seven decades have passed, they cannot remember one time when they had a serious argument. This is despite the fact they have experienced some terrible stresses, such as fleeing for Germany on horseback with their infant daughter in the face of the communist takeover of their land during the Second World War.

“The main thing you have to understand is the other person, because it’s not exactly the same as what you’re thinking,” said Eugene. “The other person has different thoughts, so you have to accept what someone else thinks and talk it over.”

Ron and Mary Smithson were at the Mass having celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary just the day before. They have been imparting their wisdom about married life to couples for well over two decades as founding members of the marriage preparation course in their parish of St. Francis Xavier in Stoney Creek, Ont.

“We were busy all our lives and didn’t have a lot of material wealth, but we had a lot of love and a lot of family,” said Mary.

“We always worked together raising the family; it wasn’t just her job or my job,” added Ron. “It was our job and that’s the way we looked at life all the way. We’ve had some good times and bad times, but we get through them all. One of the blessings is we were married on Sept. 8 … that’s Our Lady’s birthday and that’s someone who has been in our life all along.”

The Smithsons point to compromise, openness, honesty and not emphasizing material goods as key aspects to a successful marriage.

“Marriage is about compromise. What you were before you were married and what you are after is going to change. But both of you change,” said Ron.

During his homily, Crosby said the couples in the church served as a testament and witness to God’s goodness and love.

“Today is a day of celebration, a celebration of enduring love and fulfilled commitment,” he said. “It is both a reminder and a renewal of the promises made on the day you married many years ago.”

He added that each couple present was a living reminder of God’s love and its permanence. “Your marriages tell all of us, but especially young people, that lasting love is possible,” he said.

Crosby spent some two hours in the parish hall after the Mass, meeting each of the couples and posing for photos with them.

Teresa Hartnett, director of the diocese’s Family Ministry Office, said the Wedding Anniversary Mass has been held annually for some three decades and is a reflection of the Church’s desire to honour a foundational vocational aspect of the Catholic faith.

“It’s just continued to grow and grow every year,” she said, adding the event is also a part of the diocese’s overall commitment to strengthening family life, in addition to the Retrouvaille program for troubled marriages, Marriage Encounter weekends, marriage enrichment evenings and referrals for counselling.

(Gosgnach is a freelance writer in Hamilton, Ont.)

Published in Features

MAYNOOTH, Ireland - The Vatican official who will act as papal legate for the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin defended marriage based on the church's traditional teaching and urged Catholics to use the resource of the family to confront the challenges of secularized societies.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops, made his comment in his keynote address to open the International Theology Symposium at St. Patrick's College June 6.

Published in Vatican

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina voters headed to the polls May 8 to decide whether to define traditional marriage in the state constitution -- an issue on which the state's two Catholic bishops have been vocal in urging people in their dioceses to support.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte have spent months educating the faithful about church teaching on marriage and encouraging people to vote for the constitutional amendment, ever since the measure was placed on the ballot by the Republican-led state legislature last fall.

Published in International

It’s a sad irony that during this past Lenten season of holiness, all around me marriages and families were falling apart.

There were stories of fathers leaving their families after infidelity, as if he’s Eddie Fisher and she’s Elizabeth Taylor. Wives sunk into despair waiting for prodigal spouses to return. Some fathers were shunned by their children, others remained home with little remorse, bringing pain to their children and spouses who were left to wonder about the adulterous act. Frankly, there was enough drama for a BBC mini-series. Except for one crucial difference — this was reality.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

OTTAWA - Amid challenges Catholics are facing in the area of marriage and human sexuality, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) gave John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body (TOB) top billing at its third “Seminar on the Family.”

Catholic weddings have decreased 74 per cent in Canada over the past 34 years. The picture is similar in the United States and other Western countries, said Christian and Christine Meert, directors of the office of marriage and family life in the Colorado Springs diocese.

Among Catholics who choose a church wedding, 90 per cent of engaged couples are already sexually active, using artificial contraception and planning to continue using it after marriage, the couple said. They said Catholic priests and marriage preparation leaders may be reluctant to bring up the Church’s teachings on human sexuality for fear of scaring away young people.

Published in Canada

TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Feb. 17 made good on his pledge to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed by the state Legislature but at the same time said he might name an ombudsman to make sure the state's current law recognizing civil unions is respected.

The state Assembly passed the bill Feb. 16 with a 42-33 vote. The state Senate approved it 24-16 Feb. 13.

Published in International

Edmonton - In the eyes of Fr. Jack Gallagher, sociologists have proven Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage right.

“Study after study” shows that the ideal place for children to be raised is with their two birth parents, said Gallagher.

“It’s astounding to me that the empirical evidence is so clear,” he said. “I thought there would be general evidence in favour of the Catholic teaching. On point after point, the sociologists have simply proven it true.”

Published in Canada

One thing the “great gay divorce crisis of January 2012” has shown is that our government can move fast when it feels a need to get something important done. The same-sex marriage debacle lasted all of about three days and ended with the government assuring all gay couples who married here, but do not reside here, that not only is their marriage valid but they can come here any time to enjoy the weather, curling and get a divorce.

Meantime, the government’s office of religious freedom, promised almost a year ago during the federal election campaign, still sits in limbo with no details being released to the public about what such an office would look like or when it might open.

Published in Guest Columns

WASHINGTON - A letter signed by more than three dozen U.S. religious leaders objects to the specter of religious groups being forced to treat same-sex unions "as if they were marriage."

"Altering the civil definition of 'marriage' does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once," said the letter, "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together," released Jan. 12.

Published in International