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200 years of marriage matches two centuries of faith

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Archbishop Fisher congratulated Ramon and Annie Coloma, who celebrated 50 years of marriage at last weekend’s special Mass and gathering afterwards, where he presented them and other couples with a special commemorative certificate. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Fisher congratulated Ramon and Annie Coloma, who celebrated 50 years of marriage at last weekend’s special Mass and gathering afterwards, where he presented them and other couples with a special commemorative certificate. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Generous amounts of patience, prayer and problem-solving is the recipe for life-long love, according to the happy couples who gathered for Sydney’s 7th Marriage Mass last weekend.

Presided over by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, around 150 couples representing 1400 years of married life attended St Mary’s Cathedral celebrating everything from one to 61 years of wedded bliss.

While some believed they had marriages made in heaven, all agreed it was their faith that kept them there.

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The annual Mass is an occasion to thank God for the gift of marriage and to honour married couples for their life-giving love and faithfulness.

A reception for families and friends was held following Mass, where the Archbishop presented special certificates to those celebrating their gold, emerald, diamond and sapphire anniversaries (50, 55, 60 and 65 years of marriage).

“We give thanks to God for four beautiful children and seven grandchildren and through our vocation of marriage we are able to proclaim God’s love and mercy.”

Among those recognised was Ramon and Annie Coloma.

Meeting at their young adults choir in the Philippines more than five decades ago, the parishioners from St Ambrose, Concord West, have been singing each other’s praises ever since.

Instrumental in establishing Filipino Masses at St Mary MacKillop parishes at Rockdale and Arncliffe, the happy couple agree that no matter how far away they are from their native country, they always feel at home with the Lord.

“No marriage is perfect, there are always lots of ups and downs but there is no resurrection without the cross,” Annie said.

“We give thanks to God for four beautiful children and seven grandchildren and through our vocation of marriage we are able to proclaim God’s love and mercy,” she told The Catholic Weekly.

“We also pray for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and that we are a family no matter the many challenges in life, God is triumphant … It was such a joy to meet the Archbishop and celebrate such a special milestone with him.”

Together they equal 200 years of married bliss: they are, left to right, Helen and Alistair McKenzie (50 years), Annie and Ramon Coloma (50 years), Laura and Joseph Andary (50 years), Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Maria and Frank Failla (30 years) and Brenda and John Clarke (20 years). The couples were among the 150 or so representing 1400 years of marriage at last weekend’s Mass. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Together they equal 200 years of married bliss: they are, left to right, Helen and Alistair McKenzie (50 years), Annie and Ramon Coloma (50 years), Laura and Joseph Andary (50 years), Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Maria and Frank Failla (30 years) and Brenda and John Clarke (20 years). The couples were among the 150 or so representing 1400 years of marriage at last weekend’s Mass. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Archbishop Fisher welcomed the ‘VIPs’ and recognised their important Christian vocation in the Archdiocese.

“Committing to anyone or anything for life seems a long time in a world where we change professions, employers, cars, houses, body image, and affiliations again and again,” he said.

“Sticking for so long to one person might seem to be inertia, lack of imagination or cowardice … Of course, the secular world still wants marriage, but it means something less demanding, less constricting, less sacred.

“Our Catholic wisdom is very different, because we know marriage is about vocation and salvation, sacrifice and sacrament, holiness and communion.

“It’s is one of the seven ordinary ways to get caught up into the life of God we call sacraments.

“We pray today for all married couples, for steadfastness in loving, giving and forgiving, for large-heartedness, self-sacrifice and holiness, until they join the great wedding feast of heaven.”

“It requires not inertia so much as perseverance, not will-power so much as divine grace received in prayer.

“We pray today for all married couples, for steadfastness in loving, giving and forgiving, for large-heartedness, self-sacrifice and holiness, until they join the great wedding feast of heaven.”

St Mark’s, Drummoyne parishioners Maria and Frank Failla who were celebrating 30 years said that while married life was not always a bed of roses, you have to work through the challenges together.

“You have to enjoy every day together and support each other through thick and thin,” she said.

Laura and Joseph Andary from St Francis Xavier Parish, Lurnea, said the secret to their 50-year marriage was patience, tolerance, forgiveness and love.

“A happy marriage takes a lot of things but most importantly Jesus in the middle,” she smiled.

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