Two people make up a married couple, but it is so much more than that – the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a sacred bond between a man and a woman which reflects the honor, commitment and fidelity each demonstrates for the other.
To celebrate significant wedding anniversaries, Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites couples married 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50+ years to a Mass in their honor. Two Masses are celebrated each year in the Diocese of Venice so as to accommodate those wanting to attend. The first in 2020 was Feb. 1 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and a second will be 11 a.m., Feb. 29 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. (Registration is through your Parish.)
There were 317 couples present – married a combined 16,591 years – with eight celebrating 70 or more years of marriage. The longest married couple was Donald and Nonna Rassier of Epiphany Cathedral. On Oct. 2, 2020, they will celebrate their 72 years together.
Bishop Dewane said this celebration is of their commitment to each other, as well as to God. The celebration acknowledges the accomplishment they experienced in their lives which is honored and recognized by the Church.
“Your commitment to each other brings hope to the world,” Bishop Dewane said. “You represent something so great. A vocation to marriage. You were the ministers of the Sacrament, with a priest as a witness, and lived it each day during the years that followed… What a beautiful moment of grace and your being here – no matter how many years you are celebrating – is no small accomplishment.”
During the Mass, the married couples renewed their wedding vows. In addition, each couple was presented with commemorative certificates, signed by the Bishop, for their enduring commitment to marriage.
In speaking to one of four couples celebrating their anniversary on the very day (Feb. 1) of the Mass in Venice was Donald and Marilyn Dumas of Epiphany Cathedral.
“What a wonderful treat to have our anniversary on the day of this beautiful Mass,” Marilyn said of their 62nd Anniversary. The couple fell in love the moment they met, when he was on leave from the military and visiting a neighbor of Marilyn’s in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Now, 62 years later, with three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way, they wouldn’t change a thing. “We joined with each other through Christ,” Donald said. “That bond carried us through all the good times and the bad. The key to our success is that you have to have a sense of humor and have to be able to say I’m sorry.”
A reception followed the Mass with lunch and the opportunity to have complimentary pictures taken with the Bishop.
Present for the Mass were eight couples who were celebrating 70 or more years of marriage:
Donald and Nonna Rassier, Epiphany Cathedral;
John Theresa Kromish, St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte;
James and Maria Nixon, Epiphany Cathedral;
Leon and Ann Reser, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Grove City;
Paul and Stefie Zielinski, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice;
George and Marcia Equizi, St. Martha Parish, Sarasota;
Eugene and Jeanne Jakos, Our Lady of Lourdes;
and Robert and Elena Ranieri, Epiphany Cathedral.