Fifty years ago, 1967, was a time of social upheaval. The sacramental understanding of marriage was challenged on many fronts. “Free love” and “no-fault divorce” opposed the idea of a total, faithful commitment of husband and wife, and increased availability of contraception opposed openness to life. Our Lady of the Valley in La Grande was pleased to celebrate the witness of 27 couples who were willing to undertake Catholic marriage at that time – or who strove to live out their existing marriage in the face of the challenges.
On January 8, those 27 couples from the Union County parishes of Our Lady of the Valley (La Grande), Sacred Heart (Union), and St Mary’s (Elgin) married 50 years or more were honored in a Mass which included a renewal of their marriage vows. In recognition of the value of their witness, each couples was presented with a parchment papal blessing. Following Mass, the celebration continued with a reception in the parish hall. Unfortunately, treacherous roads limited active participation to 13 couples, but all were remembered in prayer.
Fr. Saji Thomas, CMI, pastor of all three parishes said, “Living 50 years in the sacrament of marriage is a wonderful thing; I hope it motivates and inspires the younger generation to honor their marriage vows.”
The living witness of these couples brings to life the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily opening the Synod on the New Evangelization: “…matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming ‘one flesh’ in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God… “ (October 7, 2012).
This article was featured in the Diocesan Chronicle.