By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
Paul and Monica Prudente, parishioners of Assumption BVM, Slatington, observed 50 years of marriage this year and want others to know “it can be done.”
The Prudentes were one of 120 couples celebrating five, 25, 40, 50 or more years of marriage, at the Anniversary Mass Celebration at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert was the main celebrant and homilist at the annual celebration where couples renewed their marital vows and praised God for more than 6,000 years of the sacrament of marriage.
The Prudentes, who raised three boys together, said marriage is not always easy but can be wonderful if a couple “let’s God in.”
“You have to work together, you have to communicate and you have to pray together,” said Monica.
During their marriage, there were highs when they ushered children into the world and lows when Paul was away hunting Russian submarines with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
“You have to know yourself before you enter into marriage. You have to be mature because there are many unknowns,” said Paul.
As a couple, they decided to engage in prayer or offer the rosary together at some point in the day or week.
“There were times when we slipped away from praying together. Life was always better when we got back into the habit,” said Paul.
Their best advice to young married couples is to make a great effort to pray together and appreciate the simple things in life.
“It’s worth it to pray together. You really do grow in love,” said Monica.
With their three sons grown and living on their own, the couple said life does not get lonely when the children leave home.
“We were blessed with children. Now we are able to relax and have more fun,” said Monica.
“There is more room in the house – even though they left a lot of their stuff behind,” laughed Paul.
The couple, who prefers not to travel a lot, said they spend their time together watching old television shows and movies, and spending time with friends.
“We like being together and that is important,” said Monica.
“It doesn’t take much to make us happy. As long as we are together – life is great,” said Paul.
Bishop Schlert, who welcomed the Prudentes and all the couples to the cathedral, thanked the couples for being an example of married love to young people.
“Marriage lived in fidelity is a perfect example of Christ’s love for his bride – the Church,” said Bishop Schlert.
While reflecting on the day’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant,” Bishop Schlert pointed out three elements that relate to a successful marriage.
“Today’s Gospel speaks about forgiveness, patience and gratitude. Those ingredients all need to be present in the sacrament of marriage,” he said.
The parable presents a king who called his servants for a day of accounting. One of them owed him an astronomical amount of money that the servant was unable to ever repay.
Since the man could not pay the debt, the king ordered that he be sold, along with his wife, his children and all his possessions. When the servant heard the verdict, he begged the king for mercy and said ‘Be patient with me and I will pay back everything.”
The king did show mercy, erased his debt and set him free. Later the servant encountered a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt and demanded payment. When the servant asked for patience and more time – the first servant refused and the debtor was sent to jail.
“It is important for us to forgive one another. If we can’t do that we will walk with heavy burdens. A successful marriage takes forgiveness. It needs patience,” said Bishop Schlert.
“Patience is born out of love. It allows give and take in marriage. Without patience, couples go to their separate corners and don’t speak,” he said.
Bishop Schlert also pointed out the lack of gratitude the servant displayed making him less human.
“When we don’t possess gratitude, we are less dignifying,” he said.
“The great sacrament of marriage is a source of gratitude. You have been called together to lead each other on the journey of life and to heaven. You reflect forgiveness, patience and gratitude.
“Your example shows us that the love of married life is possible even in a society that is often unfavorable of a marriage between one man and one woman.”
The longest married couples honored at the celebration were Joseph and Hilda Schedler and Francis and Isabelle Kercimar – who both celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year.
In addition, 10 couples marked more than 60 years of marriage, and 26 couples observed their 60th wedding anniversary.
Also honored at the celebration were four couples observing their 55th anniversary and 42 couples observing 50 years of marriage.
The Diocesan Office of Marriage and Natural Family Planning sponsors the annual celebration. Couples celebrating five, 25, 40, 50 and 60 or more years of marriage are