John and Patricia Trzaska celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 14—a “golden” occasion. But the proverbial icing on their cake this year was particularly sweet: being among 300 couples celebrating that milestone at one of two 50th Wedding Anniversary Jubilee Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Cardinal Dolan was principal celebrant and homilist of both afternoon liturgies June 25-26. The Masses are sponsored annually by the archdiocesan Family Life/Respect Life Office.
“Try to be patient; try to understand—things are not going to go great all the time,” Trzaska, 75, said in an interview after the Sunday Mass, giving advice to young couples.
He appreciated how the cardinal emphasized that marriage is a vocation.
Mrs. Trzaska, 74, said young couples should “believe in the sanctity of marriage; the Lord has really blessed us. You have to be best friends, and persevere…We love each other.”
The Trzaskas, members of Holy Family parish on Staten Island, are the parents of two and grandparents of five. He’s a retired New York City police sergeant; she’s a retired elementary school teacher.
Izabella Nagle, marriage enrichment coordinator of the Family Life/Respect Life office, said 170 couples attended the Sunday Mass and 130 couples attended the Saturday liturgy; all received archdiocesan jubilee certificates, and many were joined by their children, grandchildren and other loved ones.
Another 90 couples received certificates but were unable to attend either Mass. In all, 390 registered couples received jubilee certificates this year.
In his homily on Sunday, Cardinal Dolan spoke about prophets—that the meaning is not limited to those who can foretell the future, but that it also includes those who speak for God.
“And you speak for God,” he said to the couples, acknowledging the longevity of their holy matrimony demonstrates the Lord’s everlasting love and his true intentions for the marital covenant.
“I am so happy…I am so honored,” the cardinal said of the opportunity to celebrate the special Mass on the couples’ behalf. He added he is grateful to the Lord and to each couple for the promise they made to each other half a century ago. “God has been faithful to you,” the cardinal said.
He lamented that today’s society puts too much emphasis on individualism, and not enough on commitment.
Toward the end of the Mass, the couples renewed their marriage vows under the cardinal’s guidance. “So put on your glasses and turn on your hearing aids,” Cardinal Dolan told the couples before they listened to him and read the vows—instructions met with laughter.
The couples, who were standing, repeated after the cardinal, first the husbands as they held hands with their wives; then the wives as husbands and wives touched each other’s wedding band: “I pledge my love to you again. Once more I promise to be true. In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
Cardinal Dolan said, “Lord, bless and consecrate these couples in their love for each other. May these rings continue to be a symbol of their true faith in each other and always remind them of their love.”
Also at the Sunday Mass were Gerard and Susan Scanlan, who belong to St. Augustine parish in New City. “Faith is the most important thing; it is what keeps you together through hard times…You stay faithful to God,” Scanlan, 73, said in an interview before the Mass.
“You take it day by day,” added Mrs. Scanlan, 70.