SCRANTON – Nearly 150 couples who are celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2022 were recognized at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Wedding Anniversary Mass that honors married couples who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries this year. Two couples in attendance even celebrated 65 years of marriage!

“I was excited about being part of this Mass because I’m grateful for all the gifts that God has given us,” Beverely Dench said. “Faith is what is going to get you through, the good times and bad.”

Beverely and Tim Dench are celebrating 50 years of wedded bliss this year. They have known each other since they were teenagers and say they always got along, even while owning a business.

“It is unbelievable how fast 50 years went,” Jim said. “It was the blink of an eye. I was thinking about all the struggles we went through, all the hard times, the good times, I’m grateful!”

Joan and Vince Narcoonis are also celebrating their Golden anniversary this year. Both said to make a marriage last, it takes hard work and dedication.

“Patience, for one thing,” Joan said. “Kindness, caring, love, understanding. There are so many different things that you have to have to keep a marriage together. Don’t let anyone think it is not work, because it is work! You just have to enjoy each other’s company and have love beyond anything else.”

“Just being able to say, ‘yeah, okay, you’re right,’” Vince added with a smile. “It is harmony. Without harmony it will not work.”

During the special liturgy, Bishop Bambera led all of the couples in renewing their Matrimonial Commitment before the Lord.

Rufino Cano, who is celebrating 25 years with his wife, said that moment was extremely special.

“I remembered when we just got married. I went back in time and said it’s unbelievable that 25 years later we’re here renewing our vows,” he said.

As parishioners of Saint John Neumann Parish, Rufino and his wife, Liliana, often talk with young couples who are living together but choosing not to get marriage. They are hoping to change that.

“If you put your faith in God, he’ll guide you through, Liliana said she explains to those couples. “Don’t be afraid. With God, you can do it.”

As he began his homily, Bishop Bambera first noted the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was handed down just 48 hours earlier.

“We all need to be thankful to God and so many that the Justices recognized the sanctity of human life, one of the fundamental teachings of our Church,” the bishop said to applause when he initially brought up the topic.

As he focused on the Word of God, the bishop turned to reflections on love – which he says never gives up.

“What we celebrate today in your marriages, is not merely endurance and determination but the mystery of God’s love for us – and at work in our lives,” Bishop Bambera said.

Calling marriage an “incredible institution,” he added that each couple provides hope to the world.

“Your marriages endured not because the years together have been perfect but because you have come to see your marriage as part of something much bigger than yourselves – the mystery of God’s love woven into your lives, your family and your marriage. Don’t think for an instant that you – or any of us – are here but by the grace of God and that is the reason we give thanks,” he continued.

As he concluded his homily, he asked each couple to look at one another.

“Realize how blessed and sacred your relationship is,” the bishop noted. “For all that you have been through, realize how blessed you are to have each other and for as familiar as those eyes may be, see through them to discover the abiding face of God, present with you on the journey, a presence that ultimately has brought you to this day.”