For The Dialog
MIDDLETOWN – Tim and Lynn Spence felt almost like newlyweds when they and more than 100 other couples celebrated significant wedding anniversaries at the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass.
The Spences, of Holy Rosary Parish in Claymont, celebrated 10 years of marriage, a modest number of years compared to many of the couples at St. Joseph Church.
“We’re not used to being the youngest,” Lynn, 43, said of her and Tim, 46.
All told, the 118 couples who registered for the Mass have been married for more than 5,600 years, combined. Topping the list were Bill and Amee McCarthy, who mark their 75th anniversary this year, and Louis and Victoria Twardowski, at 73 years. Seventy-nine of the 118 couples who registered for the Mass are celebrating 50 or more years of marriage this year, including 34 marking a Golden Anniversary.
Bishop Malooly celebrated the Anniversary Mass, his ninth, for wives and husbands with significant anniversaries — 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 35, and 50 or above. In his homily, he said a man and women in marriage have “complementary roles.” He cited Pope Francis as saying that marriage is a ministry “wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man.”
Together with God the man and wife form a strong family foundation, Bishop Malooly said. He led the couples in a renewal of their wedding vows.
Ann Brzozowski and her husband Carl of St. John the Beloved in Wilmington are celebrating their 54th anniversary this year. “It’s nice to be with all the other couples to celebrate marriages that have stood the test of time,” she said.
Christopher and Catherine Schneider, celebrating their 25th anniversary, attended the Mass along with their 11 children, who range in age from 6 to 22. They live in Newark and attend Our Lady of Fatima in New Castle.
The bishop celebrating so many long marriages with couples “reinforces what we teach” our children about marriage, and the role God plays in it, Christopher said.
“We’re thanking [God] for 25 years of marriage and for all our children,” Catherine said.
She was awed by the presence of the McCarthys, with 75 years of marriage, and the Twardowskis, with 73 years. “Wow, what a gift,” Catherine Schneider said.
The Spences thought the celebration “honors the sanctity of marriage,” as Lynn put it. “It was an honor for the bishop to bless us and renew our vows.”
She called the decades of so many other marriages a role model, noting that she and Tim had encountered some rough times in their marriage.
Spence said she was sure a lot of couples at the anniversary Mass “had a lot to deal with in their marriages, and they are still together,” she said. “Marriage endures.”