Celebrating marriages: young and old Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
family and marriage
Karen Szudera, left, plays with Annabelle, the daughter of newlywed couple Emily and Jared Miller at the recent annual diocesan Celebration of Wedding Anniversaries at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains. For more pictures of the event, visit (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

CROSS PLAINS -- “Beautiful” was the word of the day recently in Cross Plains.

“Beautiful” described the flowers, the married couples, family members and guests, the church, the Mass — with its music, readings, and prayers — and the reception that followed.

August 12 marked the day of the annual Diocese of Madison Celebration of Wedding Anniversaries, this year held at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains.

The event celebrates the marriages of couples in the diocese married for 50, 55, 60, or more years of marriage, along with “newlyweds” married for three years or fewer.

Ageless love

It’s both a blessing and not uncommon to see two people in their 80s at the celebration.

Typically, they sit on the front of row of church for the Mass, examples of several decades of marriage.

One couple in this age group, however, showed that love and new commitment just isn’t for the young.

Barbara Malin and Leroy Schamburek were seated in the Newlywed section, happily married for all of nine weeks at that point.

The members of Blessed Trinity Parish in Lodi were celebrating their recent marriage at the ages of 87 and 86, respectfully.

The wife and husband, both widowed, had been living in the same senior apartment building, and after getting to know each other “decided we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives,” according to Barbara.

“We had a lot of things in common,” said Leroy.

Barbara added, “We both believed that if you wanted to be together, you didn’t just live together . . . we were committed.”

The couple said they pray the Rosary together every morning and urged newer married couples to “just stick with it” and “keep trying” when their marriage faces challenges.

Seated near them in the same section were Maria and Thomas Dobbins, members of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison

Representing a typical young adult couple, the two had been married a full year coming into the celebration.

They also emphasized the importance of prayer in their marriage.

“We definitely set aside time for prayer as a couple, which is really important for grounding our marriage,” said Maria.

The couple said they also go to Eucharistic Adoration together, with prayer playing “a pretty big role.”

With 12 months of marriage in the books and a baby on the way, the couple said they were “very blessed” and were looking forward to meeting other couples at the celebration who had been married for many years.

“There’s a lot of good couples in the diocese with a lot of wisdom and things to share,” said Maria.

Love by example

Millie and Felix Ring, married for 71 years and members of St. Luke Parish in Plain, were the first couple to arrive at the celebration.

Their marriage more than seven decades ago blossomed into a family with seven children, 19 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.

Reflecting on the years and blessings, Felix said it “feels like you were never unmarried.”

While he admitted that, “things don’t always go smoothly,” he said “if you have problems, you’ve got to work it out between you two.”

Millie added that, “an important thing is to pray together” and “help each other.”

Cecilia and Charles Breihan, members of St. Clement Parish in Lancaster, were celebrating 62 years of marriage.

Looking back on their marriage, Cecilia said, “I feel like it’s a blessing . . . especially in this era of divorce and remarriage, I think it’s a great blessing.”

She added that, “you have to cooperate with His graces in order to get this far. If you don’t, it’ll never last.”

Cecilia said they tried to raise their family “by example” of how to be faithful Catholics.

They sent their kids to a Catholic school, never missed Mass, and encouraged the family to “keep their faith and pray together as much as possible.”

The couple, who usually attends the celebration yearly, missed last year’s because of Charles suffering a heart attack.

After a year of recovery, and a pacemaker, he said he feels “rejuvenated.”

He added his advice for having a blessed marriage.

“Two little words: ‘yes, dear’.”

Examples of forgiveness

The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison.

During his homily, he told the married couples that Jesus died on the Cross “so that sins might be forgiven, so there might be mercy, so that there might be forgiveness.”

The bishop added that, “when I look out at you, I just see an incredible mountain range of forgiveness that the Lord has helped you to construct over so many years . . . how many times have you had to forgive one another, that would be quite a number . . . and that’s the whole purpose for Jesus coming in the flesh so that sins might be forgiven, so that there might be mercy.”

He continued, “You beloved married couples have ministered the mercy of Christ, so long and faithfully that you haven’t just built a monument, but you’ve built a whole mountain range of forgiveness . . . and that’s what we celebrate today, that forgiveness which you have practiced is far more beautiful than these flowers and they are beautiful . . . your forgiveness, your patience with each other, the beauty of those things surpasses most everything else.”

Celebrating marriage

Each couple attending the celebration received a certificate from the diocese congratulating them on their marriages.

A commemorative booklet was also available with pictures and words of wisdom from the couples celebrating decades of marital blessings.

Following the Mass, a reception was held in the parish hall where couples, young and old, got a chance to meet each other and share their stories.

Some of the older couples took a special delight in meeting the young children of the couples married for at least a year.

For more information on the annual celebration go to

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