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A millennium of loving marriage

Darren Ally
Darren Ally
Darren Ally is the Manager for Communications and News Media at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.
Sixty couples came togethewr to celebrate over 1000 years of marriage between them at St Mary’s Cathedral on 22 October. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Sixty couples came together to celebrate over 1000 years of marriage between them at St Mary’s Cathedral on 22 October. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

More than a thousand families and friends celebrated the significant anniversaries of 60 couples at St Mary’s Cathedral on 22 October—over 1000 total years of marriage!

In recognition of their incredible achievement, couples renewed their vows in a service by Sydney Bishop Richard Umbers, who also presented them with a special commemorative certificate.

“Today is Life, Marriage and Family Sunday,” said Mission Manager for the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, Hazel Lim, who celebrated 20 years of marriage with her husband Meng.

“This is an initiative where families are celebrated on the feast day of St John Paul II. It really is a celebration of the dignity of life, celebrating marriages and families as pillars of our faith.”

Significant anniversaries included Steven and Stella Buhagiar who celebrated their 30th anniversary and were supported by their parents, with 53 years of marriage.

“To have their milestone recognised by Bishop Richard was just so joyful, everyone appreciated that,’ said Mrs Lim.

For John, 87 and Wendy Grimes, 82 from Oatley, the occasion had a special significance for two reasons: the event fell on the day of their 63rd wedding anniversary and they were returning to the iconic location of their marriage, St Mary’s Cathedral.

“Yesterday was very special for us. There’s nothing like being recognised for a happy married life, which not a lot of people have to enjoy. We’ve been blessed!” Mrs Grimes said.

As they walked through the doors of the cathedral, all the memories of that momentous day 63 years ago came flooding back for the Oatley couple, particularly for Wendy, who was 19 at the time.

“The cathedral has never left my mind. I remember every moment of that wedding in 1960,” she said.

“It was raining all day. My dad said it would stop raining. I said I don’t care because I was so happy. But as I arrived at the cathedral, the rain immediately stopped. It was a miracle.

“But what sticks out was that a big gust of wind blew my very long veil and train all around my head.

Bishop Richard Umbers presented married couples with a certificate to celebrate their love for each other. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Bishop Richard Umbers presented married couples with a certificate to celebrate their love for each other. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It was like having angels all around me! I get emotional just thinking about it.”

As John and Wendy cut their cake with Bishop Richard, to those watching it seemed like those angels have never left their side, throughout their six decade journey.

“What I noticed from John and Wendy is they exuded so much joy,” Mrs Lim said.

“They were smiling the whole day. They even kissed during a photo session and just exuded joy and love out of their marriage. And so that was a great witness to us all.”

Life, Marriage and Family Sunday is in keeping with the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s mission to “Go Make Disciples.”

“It’s about seeing other couples and families come together, and sharing experiences as they strive to grow in holiness,” Mrs Lim said.

“It’s a nice way to acknowledge the hard work that they put in their marriages and that the church supports them.”

Not surprisingly, John and Wendy’s wedding feat made them a much sought-after source of secrets for a long, happy marriage.

“Couples should really appreciate each other for their own achievements and support each other—be a complete team,” said John. “And we’ve been lucky to be in good health.”

Pressed on the true secret to their success, Wendy relinquishes the one secret to their longevity: a weekly date night, away from the kids.

“Every Saturday night John and I go out for dinner. Every Saturday night. We would go out and have a nice meal, just to remind ourselves,” said Mrs Grimes.

It’s a tradition that continues to this day.

“We’ve had a wonderful life together and we hope it doesn’t end soon,” said Mr Grimes.

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