HARTFORD – More than 200 married couples marked significant anniversaries – from a few weeks to 67 years – and renewed their marriage vows Oct. 20 at the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral. The joyous event, sponsored each year by the Family Life Office, this year celebrated more than 9,600 years of marriage.
Newlyweds David Garrido and Alice Matteson celebrated publicly, as Alice sang "Sancta Maria" while David accompanied her on piano. Alice also assisted Sarah Gedicks as one of the cantors, and David assisted music director Dr. Ezequiel Menéndez as organist.
Norman and Georgette Gelineau, of St. Ann Parish, Bristol, had the honorary front pew, as they celebrated 67 years. When Norman met Georgette, in the mid-1940s, she was playing softball at Jennings School in Bristol. "He was there watching me, with my brother," Georgette said.
"She was a great person to play the outdoor games," Norman said. "I thought she was doing a good job, and I thought she was beautiful, and I said, ‘Well, this is it.’"
But first, Norman went to war, serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. He was a signalman on a destroyer assigned to escort aircraft carriers near Okinawa. "We got to see quite a few plane crashes and stuff of that nature, which wasn’t very pretty, but I was thankful to come out of it alive," he said.
A few couples unable to attend actually have been married longer than the Gelineaus, including Armand and Dina Ambrosini, 75 years; Loyal and Josephine Morse, 71 years; and Thomas and Elma Cronkhite and William and Mary Godburn, 70 years.
Laurier and Huguette Martin shared a pew with Norman and Donna Lavoie, and with good reason. Not only are both couples marking their 50th anniversaries this year, but Laurier is Donna’s brother.
Laurier was a drummer in a band called the Martin Brothers, and he was playing at the French Club in Hartford more than a half century ago, when Huguette walked in and fell in love.
"And my friends said not to marry this girl, because she was from Quebec and I was from New Brunswick [Canada]," Laurier said.
Donna Martin met Norman Lavoie in New Brunswick, and they both moved to Connecticut in 1961. They were married at St. Ann Church, Hartford, in August 1963.
Both couples are parishioners at St. Matthew Church, Forestville.
Louis and Alice (McLaughlin) DeLuca, of St. Teresa of Avila Parish, Woodbury, are celebrating 60 years of marriage. Still active in Woodbury politics, Mr. DeLuca is a former state senator representing the 32nd senatorial district.
"We’re thankful that the archbishop is doing something like this to help us celebrate our 60th anniversary, and many others," Mr. DeLuca said.
The couple met in Boston, at a restaurant that Mr. DeLuca’s family owned. "He’s always been an excellent cook," Mrs. DeLuca said.
Don and Chris Paglia have been involved with the Family Life Office since 1979 and have been directing it since 1986. Every year since 1986, they have not only sponsored the event but have also annually renewed their own vows, as they did this time, marking 44 years of marriage. They will be retiring from the Family Life Office soon but hope to be back next year as participants celebrating their 45th anniversary.
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, principal celebrant, expressed "gratitude, appreciation, joy and admiration for all our couples celebrating significant anniversaries this year."
In his homily, he alluded to Dr. Menéndez’s rendition of a hymn that states, when translated, "Where there’s love and charity, there God is."
He told the couples, "You are the homily today." He said they are "examples to all of us" because they have overcome challenges and endured in their commitments. He said that the popular saying from the book Love Story – "Love means never having to say you’re sorry" – is not true. "Love means saying you’re sorry almost every day," the archbishop corrected.
After the Mass, couples had their portraits taken professionally with Archbishop Mansell, who gave them rosaries that were blessed by Pope Francis during a pilgrimage to Rome. The couples will receive prints of their portraits, along with anniversary certificates.