.- More than 580 couples renewed their marriage vows at a Sunday Mass celebrated by Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Couples offered a variety of advice for a long-lived marriage. Participants were from Washington, D.C. as well as suburban and southern Maryland Catholic parishes. Some couples had been married for as long as 68 years. Of the couples at the Mass, 254 were married for 50 or more years.
The archdiocese recounted in a press release the story of participants Thomas and Rose Spalding, who first met when Thomas was seven years old. They married when he was 23 and she was 18. He has been a deacon at Our Lady’s Church for 20 years.
Mr. Spalding told the archdiocese he recalls a “beautiful life” with his wife in a marriage that has produced nine children, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“It’s been so wonderful, I just wonder where else you can go from here?” he commented.
Two brothers and their wives also renewed their vows. Dave and Pat Warner met while he was in the U.S. Army. They wrote to each other for two years before marrying 55 years ago. Chris and Judy Warner, who have been married for 40 years, met when she came to Washington to visit friends.
Asked the secret to a happy marriage, Chris replied “I was raised if you make a commitment you stay with it.”
Both couples live in Rockville, Maryland. Three other Warner brothers have also been married for decades.
John and Corazon Landicho of Beltsville, Maryland told the Washington Post that avoiding grudges was key to their 51 years of marriage.
A high-ranking government accountant, John often traveled across the country and the world. This left Corazon alone to care for their five children. He said this was “hard.”
Corazon said that when they fought she had a regular habit. “I cry. I get out of the house. I drive around the block. And that's the end of that."
"You know, fighting doesn't really solve anything. Go ahead, get it out of your system, but don't stay mad for a long time."
John told the Washington Post their marriage’s success was due to their deep faith and real partnership.
"We're winners together," he said. "That's what makes it work."
In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl said he often asks long-married couples their secret and the answer is never the same. Some make a point to say “I love you” every day, while others make it a point to say they are sorry.
The common thread is that each spouse loves the other in a way that reflects God’s love for both of them.
"Because of the power of love, it is possible for a couple to move from 'me' to 'we,' " the archbishop said, according to the Washington Post."Love never fails. We may. But love never fails."
In addition to renewing their vows and receiving a special blessing during Mass, all couples received personalized certificates commemorating their special anniversary.