HARTFORD – For Charles and Deanna Comparetto, it’s never too late to start over. He is 92, she is 76, and they’ve been married just one year.
They are one of 210 couples who attended the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Oct. 19. Another 53 couples had registered but were unable to attend. All of them received a marriage anniversary certificate signed by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, principal celebrant.
The Oct. 19 date was the exact one-year anniversary of the Comparettos’ wedding at St. Bernard Parish in Enfield, presided over by Father John P. Melnick, pastor.
In contrast, Norbert and Ida Deslauriers, of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Hartford, have been married 75 years, longer than any other couple attending. They were married in 1939, had three sons and spend time with eight grandchildren. They have lived in Hartford all their lives.
In all, the couples celebrating anniversaries represented 10,808 years of marriage. Attending couples were invited to renew their marriage vows.
“I didn’t know Charles, and I didn’t know who he was,” Mrs. Comparetto said in a telephone interview. “We both lived in Hazardville [a section of Enfield]. He [had] lived in Hazardville for 68 years. His wife had just died.”
The former Mrs. Binnenkade had lost her husband 36 years earlier. She and Mr. Comparetto met in 2010 during lunch at the Mark Twain Congregate Living Center in Enfield.
His future bride realized that he was lonely and needed help organizing his medication. She began caring for him. In November 2011, she realized she had fallen in love with him. They became engaged on Valentine’s Day, 2012.
Sitting in the same front pew, but separated by 74 years of marriage, were Mr. and Mrs. Deslauriers, both dressed nattily in white.
Asked why celebrating their anniversary at the cathedral is important, Mr. Deslauriers quipped, “It gets you out of the house.” What would they otherwise be doing? “Probably napping,” Mrs. Deslauriers joked.
Wallace and Barbara Miramant, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Meriden, celebrated 67 years of marriage.
“I never expected to be in the first pew,” Mrs. Miramant said. “It’s important to be here because we made it this far and we have to thank the good Lord for that.”
Anthony and Dorothy Markelon, of St. Philip in East Windsor, have been married 65 years and have taken part in similar celebrations in a church in Florida. “We used to travel to Florida with our RV’s. The bishop there had a blessing. We’ve never [celebrated] here before,” Mr. Markelon said.
Mrs. Markelon said it’s important to mark the occasion this way “just to give thanks for being here.”
Mike and Kathy Reilly, of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Simsbury, were among the 80 couples celebrating 50 years. Mr. Reilly had just been discharged from St. Francis Hospital after being treated for a heart attack.
“It was a wake-up call,” Mr. Reilly said.
“I told people, ‘Everything is good except he had a heart attack.’ And they said, ‘Is that like saying to Mrs. Lincoln, ‘How was the play?’” Mrs. Reilly said.
“It’s a faith-based Mass and blessing, and it’s very important to us,” Mr. Reilly said.
Archbishop Blair greeted the couples at the start of the Mass, saying, “We are gathered on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to celebrate beautiful gifts, sacramental gifts.… We thank God for the blessings of the many years, and also we ask him to continue to bless us so we may always be faithful to the love to which he calls us.”
In his homily, the archbishop said, “I join you in giving thanks to God for many, many blessings. I think I speak for all the couples here in saying that you have tried for all these many years to walk as husband and wife in the light of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
About marriage, he said, “It’s about faithful love, isn’t it? It’s about making a gift of self and learning to make a gift of self over many years, because it doesn’t come naturally and easy for us.”
He warned against those who are trying to change the definition of marriage, which he said is “a living image of the union between Christ the bridegroom and the church his bride.”
He said, “The church remains faithful, and always will, to the God-given meaning of marriage. And sadly, we have to acknowledge that to use even that God-given meaning is rejected and ridiculed today. But that’s what it is: faithful, lifelong union between one man and one woman for their own good and for the transmission of life.”
After the Mass, couples had their pictures taken with Archbishop Blair and went to a reception.