Decades of marriage a ‘beautiful life’
Generous lashings of patience, prayer, and problem-solving are the recipe for life-long love, according to some of the happy couples who gathered for Sydney’s annual Marriage Mass.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called modern ‘heroes’ the more than 200 couples celebrating significant anniversaries this year to the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 21 July.
“Lots of patience and prayer to God” is the secret to conjugal bliss said Annunciata Biviano. The 81-year-old married her husband Domenico 66 years ago just before she turned 16 and he was 19.
Annunciata and Biviano – 66 years
The pair migrated to Australia from their island home of Lipari off the northern coast of Sicily in 1962. They settled in Dee Why where they raised their two children Robert and Josephine and are still active members of St Kevin’s parish.
‘I love her very, very much’
“Life is beautiful. I love her very, very much,” Domenico, 86, said of his bride, adding that his number one tip for newly-weds would be to “read the Bible”.
The Bivianos along with the other couples celebrating significant anniversaries plus younger couples who recently married at the cathedral are “marriage and family heros, especially in a world that says commitments are too hard, are not worth trying and are doomed to fail,” the archbishop told the large group at a reception in Chapter Hall following the Mass.
“You are very much an important countersign,” he said, acknowledging the inevitable “trials and faults along the way” of married life. “You are lesson to humanity, a maturer humanity, a more virtuous humanity, a holier humanity.”
Nancy and Eddie – 55 years
Bossley Park catechist Nancy Volpato, who has been married for 55 years to her husband Eddie, said that a successful marriage involves “lots of give and take”.
“And you have to have love,” she said.
“Through prayer we learn God’s love and how God wants us to live.”
John and Betty – 64 years
John and Betty Miller of Menai said they were full of gratitude for their 64 years of married life. “Being Anglican in the 50s marrying a Catholic, people were very bigoted and I got a lot of nastiness,” said Betty, who married at age 22 in the cathedral.
“But my mother said to me, ‘If you’re going to marry a Catholic, then you’re going to get married in the best church in Sydney.”
The Millers have attended the annual Mass to mark each year since as they welcomed first their six children, then 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with two more on the way. “We are so very lucky,” Betty said.
Ross and Vivien – 50 years
Fifty years, four children and two grandchildren have taught Vivien and Ross Sterrantino that “God’s help is essential”.
Communication is key
Ying and Will Wu – 2.5 years
Ying and Will Wu from Parramatta’s cathedral parish were among the younger couples present at the Mass organised by the Sydney archdiocese’s Life, Family and Outreach Office. They married two and a half years ago and their gorgeous five-month-daughter Emilia is the “biggest thing” to happen in that time, they said.
They have already learnt that “communication is the most important thing to keep a marriage alive” and credited their Catholic marriage preparation through the online course SmartLoving Engaged with helping them to nip inevitable problems in the bud.
“I didn’t have high expectations of the course, but it was actually very good,” said Will.
“I like the idea of ‘leaning into’ each other when there’s a problem, to talk through whatever issues there are in a collaborative way.”