Diane and Frank Vanecek, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield, began their marriage 50 years ago at a Mass in Independence, Ohio, so they thought it fitting to begin the celebration of their golden wedding anniversary at a Mass, the annual World Marriage Day Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington.

They were one of 23 couples from throughout the Diocese of Burlington to participate in the special Mass Feb. 4 with Msgr. John McDermott, diocesan administrator, as principal celebrant.

“It’s fitting to come here to Mass to celebrate 50 years of marriage and all the blessings we have received,” Diane Vanecek said: a “wonderful” daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren; good health, and a “wonderful” life.

She wore a locket her husband gave her that she wore at her wedding, showing the photos of them inside. “What keeps us together … is God,” she said.

Theresa and Marcel Begnoche of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin March Church in Swanton are celebrating 60 years of marriage. The parents of six, grandparents of 10 and great grandparents of six were married at St. Louis Church in Highgate Center.

They credited their long marriage to their reliance on their faith and their French-Canadian family values. “My father used to say you’re put on this earth to love and serve the Lord,” Mrs. Begnoche said. “Our faith helped us very much through the years.”

The celebration of World Marriage Day, part of National Marriage Week, is an opportunity to support and promote marriage and the family, the domestic Church.

In his homily, Msgr. McDermott said the gathering was a way to celebrate and honor the couples who had been married from 25 to 65 years and are a witness to love and stability.

In the midst of need, struggles and illness, Jesus can provide comfort and healing, he said.

And the witness of married couples can bring Christ to those who are suffering or have fallen away from the practice of their faith; do this through a way of life and through prayer, he added. “And invite them back to know the healing Christ alone can provide.”

Msgr. McDermott offered prayers that the promises the couple made on their wedding day would remain strong and that they would continue to be witnesses of the love of Christ made manifest in their love for each other.

“Our world needs witness of love and sacrifice,” he said.

He offered a blessing for all married couples at the end of Mass.

“All of us at the diocesan offices offer our congratulations to all married couples. Let their love bear witness to God’s faithful love and a little bit of heaven on Earth through their marriage covenant,” said Deacon Armand Auclair, diocesan coordinator of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Burlington.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.