Venice | The more than 300 couples who attended the first of two Masses celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage within the Diocese took pride in learning that their commitment to marriage is an inspiration for the generations that follow.
“That feels really good to hear from the Bishop,” Pam Buxman of St. Cecelia Parish in Fort Myers said after the Feb. 17 Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. She and her husband, Ron, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the day of the Mass. “We have been blessed to have been together and have such a loving family. One of our children texted a congratulations this morning and also said we were an example. What a wonderful thing to hear. You don’t think about it, because it was never easy, but it is commitment based on respect and love.”
The Buxmans met in Quincy, Illinois, when Ron was a lifeguard and Pam was a troublemaker. They winter in Fort Myers and live in Hortonville, Wisconsin. They have four children and nine grandchildren.
Faith has been an important aspect of their married life, so much so that Ron entered the Catholic Church 30 years ago. “It was an important thing for our family and for our marriage,” he explained.
Bishop Dewane thanked all of the couples present for being an example of joy, commitment, patience and love, because they “live these virtues in a special way and give that witness to all of us.”
Groups of couples married 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and more years were honored during the Mass and praised by the Bishop for their longevity. Of the couples present, the average years of marriage was 51, and the combined total of years among the couples was 15,500. Bishop Dewane stressed the couples are an example to the younger generations, showing others that making such a strong commitment can last. A highlight of the Mass is when the couples jointly renew their wedding vows.
Thomas and Mary O’Meara of St. Raphael Parish in Englewood have been married for 58 years and said they loved the Mass and recognition of their marriage. “Marriage is often overlooked today,” Mary explained. Looking back now after five children and eight grandchildren, they credit their lasting marriage to a deep and profound love of one another and their whole family; plus add in lots of hugs and a marriage reaches 58 years.
“You don’t think about the years because each one is filled with special moments that can never be taken away,” Thomas said. “Our marriage is the culmination of all of that.”
Following Mass, there was a luncheon and the opportunity for couples to have their photo taken with Bishop Dewane.
The Diocese Office of Family Life organizes the Masses, and encourages any couple wishing to participate in the second Mass March 10, 10 a.m., at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, to register now through their local Parish.