Fort Myers | Every year, Feb. 7-14 is celebrated as National Marriage Week. This week provides an opportunity for married couples to “celebrate the gift and blessings of marriage.” Included in the week is World Marriage Day Feb. 11, which honors husbands and wives as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of society and salutes the beauty of their faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily married life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls this day and week an opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family. Bishop Frank J. Dewane knows the importance of support and celebrating marriage, which is why two Anniversary Masses are held each year in their honor. For these Masses, the Bishop invites all couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage, at either the 11 a.m., Feb. 17 Mass at Epiphany Cathedral, Venice, or the 10 a.m., March 10 Mass at St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs. A luncheon follows the Masses. Registration is done through your local parish office, so please register now.
For National Marriage Week the Diocese of Venice asked couples to explain in their own words why marriage matters. Laurie and Phil Olive of Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers, said “marriage matters because God made it so.”
“Going on 22 years of marriage, I am reminded every single day of this miraculous plan,” Laurie said. “Every time our family feels broken, I can look back and see that those were the times we were moving away from the plan. The fix: husbands love and cherish your wives in actions and in thought so they in turn can give you the respect you deserve as a man made in the image of God.”
Laurie added “when whole families thrive, our society thrives. Marriage absolutely matters. For each family and the world around us. Brilliant.”
Paula and Jimmy Timpson of St. Raphael Parish, Englewood, have been married 22 years and explained that their 10-year-old son Timmy said marriage matters because it helps save babies and it is love. Jimmy said marriage matters because it is “the effervescent connection of two spirits who help each other grow and share joys and tough times all to make a family.”
For Paula marriage matters because “it is learning to really love unconditionally a partner in life and a best friend. It is sharing double joys. Grace is in the middle of a marriage that trusts in God’s love healing all from evil making it last. Bringing marriage into its true purpose is God’s will. A child is the fruit of a marriage shiny forever reminding the couple what really matters.”
Carmelo J. and Lydia Santos of St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers will be celebrating their 58th anniversary March 25. “It is a momentous event in our lives. Lydia and I have been together for a life time,” Carmelo said. “We have experienced the good and bad times in our marriage and have come through with flying colors.”
They credit their parents as being shining examples of long marriages, Carmelo’s parents were married 69 years and died within seven months of each other. Lydia’s parents were together more than 30 years and both passed within two years of each other.
“We mention their longevity because it is part of our experience. Any hardships we may have had in our lives we worked it out together. The value in a marriage comes from the shared problems and the joys that the birth of a child can have. However, when you lose a child or become ill. How do you deal with it? As one lives he experiences all those situations. Our marriage made it possible to handle those same issues.”
They added that marriage is a condition where two persons are together and create a lifetime of experiences and they challenge anyone to live a life without love.
“Marriage was created to share such situations. You care for each other in good and bad trying times. The loss of our son was devastating but we worked thought it and raised our younger son, into a compassionate loving husband, father, and son. Their son and daughter have stable marriages, she married 35 years, and he married 17.
“We are proud to speak of our marriage’s longevity because we feel it is a good example of human understanding,” they added. “Nothing works perfectly but when you work at understanding each other and work towards raising your family in harmony you are an example of what people need to hear about. Life is an ever-changing event and one has to live the moment in God’s light.”