August 26, 2016

50-year jubilarians celebrate marriage, share stories, offer advice

Barbara and Tom Stader of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield prepare to renew their wedding vows during a Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass on Aug. 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The couple was married on April 16, 1966. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Barbara and Tom Stader of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield prepare to renew their wedding vows during a Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass on Aug. 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The couple was married on April 16, 1966. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Mary fell into Wayne while ice skating.

Nelson joined the choir after meeting the parish organist, Judith.

Enrique proposed to Carmen without ever having dated her.

These are just a few of the circumstances that launched 64 couples down the path to marriage—unions that have lasted a half century, resulting in 3,200 years of marriage, 192 children, 377 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

Those marriages were celebrated on Aug. 14 at the annual Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life.

‘What does holiness look like?’

The Mass was concelebrated by Fathers James Farrell, Stephen Jarrell and Martin Rodriguez, with Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, serving as the principal celebrant.

Despite the cloudy skies outside, Msgr. Stumpf noted in his homily that “the love of our couples here today is a radiant light glorifying our heavenly Father. And while that light shines very brightly today, it has also shone very brightly for 50 years.”

He mentioned the Olympic Games taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and compared the athletes’ dedication, discipline and persistence to those of the celebrating couples.

“Similarly you, our golden jubilarians, help us to see that things of great price, like love and marriage, require sacrifice and discipline and … commitment, expressed perhaps most importantly in day-to-day living. Standing in the midst of piles of laundry, putting in overtime at work to pay for a new furnace, putting up with messes—these are times of commitment.”

Marriage also requires forgiveness and sacrifice, Msgr. Stumpf said, challenging acts, but ones that are “absolutely essential for love to endure.”

But in the midst of the discipline, commitment, forgiveness and sacrifice, he said, the couples “help us to see joy. For marriage is clearly a gift—a gift given by God to bring joy in the lives of men and women. And while you have been called to be helpmates to one another, you have also most especially been called to bring happiness to one another. … Our spirits are lifted when we see a couple who are delighted in one another.”

During the Mass, the couples renewed their marriage vows.

“But in reality, you have renewed those promises every day for 50 years, and you continue to do so every day,” said Msgr. Stumpf. “For you vowed to not only love and honor and care for one another on that first day amidst the flowers and the celebration, but every day … when life is a leaking roof, and a car that won’t start, and kids who are sick. It’s a promise kept and renewed every morning and every night across a half century.”

And that daily renewed commitment is “part of what it means to live a sacramental marriage,” he said.

“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Thus, in the eyes of the Church, marriage is holy and continues to be a way of holiness.

“And what does holiness look like? Well, frequently it looks like 50 years of love, commitment, forgiveness, sacrifice and joy.”

‘The guy always has the last word…’

For Norman and Pat Lorsung of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, that 50-year journey began on one fruitful evening for eight particular people.

“I was [in the army] stationed at Fort Knox” near Louisville, Ky., said Norman. “I’d just gotten back from Korea. Five of us guys always went to Whispering Hills [Country Club]. We met five girls one night.”

Pat picked up the story from there.

“Ultimately, to this day, we have four married couples, all of whom are Catholic,” she said. “Ours was the first wedding. … We’ve followed each other to all the children’s weddings until we ran out of children.”

The Lorsungs, who have four children and 11 grandchildren, reflected on what it takes to make a marriage last 50 years.

Despite traveling with the military, said Pat, “We’ve always managed to incorporate the Church in our whole life, and in our children’s also.”

As for Norman, he had some specific advice.

“The guy always has the last word,” he said with gravity: “ ‘Yes, dear.’ ”

‘I fell for him … right into him’

Practicing patience, compromising, going with the flow and not sweating the small stuff—those are the ingredients to make a marriage last 50 years, according to Mary and Wayne Heisig of Good Shepherd Parish in Indianapolis and Maureen and Steve Bauer of Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove.

The longtime friends sat together at a reception following the Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass. They’d met more than 50 years prior on a Senior Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) ski outing—the first date for the Heisigs, while the Bauers had been dating a short while.

It was through Senior CYO that both couples met their spouses—the Bauers at a party, and the Heisigs through ice skating.

“[Wayne] belonged to Senior CYO at St. Philip’s [Parish], and I belonged to the one at Cathedral,” Mary explained.

Both groups happened to go ice skating every Sunday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis.

“We just happened to go the same night,” she recalled. “I met him at the Tee Pee [Restaurant] afterward.

“The next week is when I fell for him—I was trying to do a turn on the ice, and I fell right into him,” she said with a laugh.

The Heisigs now have four children and 10 grandchildren, and the Bauers have two children and five grandchildren. Both cite their Catholic faith as playing an important role in their 50 years of marriage.

“Faith has always been the center of our marriage,” said Mary. “We’ve always tried to raise our kids that way. God’s just always been there.”

Echoing the words of Msgr. Stumpf’s homily, Wayne noted that it takes “persistence, going to Mass every Sunday. It’s a discipline. … We see the benefits in our marriage and our children.”

‘God’s providence is unbelievable’

Like the Heisigs and Bauers, Judith and Nelson Coughlan enjoyed outings with the Catholic Youth Organization in their home state of New Jersey.

But it was music that initially brought them together.

“We met in church,” said Judith. “I was the church organist, and [Nelson] was asked to come and sing with the choir on the occasion of our church school dedication.”

Nelson was impressed by the organist.

“I joined the choir after that!” he said.

It turns out the two had grown up just a mile apart, but in separate towns. They even had mutual friends in high school, yet never crossed paths.

“God’s providence is unbelievable—how we met, and the circumstances,” said Nelson. They were engaged after just six months.

They are now members of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg, and have two children and four grandchildren.

“Our lives always revolved around the faith,” said Judith.

She and Nelson now serve as a sponsor couple for engaged couples at their parish. The advice they give for a lasting marriage is to trust in God, to communicate and to respect each other.

“It’s worked for us so far,” said Nelson with a grin.

‘Why don’t we just get married?’

The families of Enrique and Carmen Rosa Hurtado of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis had been friends all their lives. Both families lived in a village in Peru in South America.

Never having shown any interest in each other outside of friendship, one day after Mass Enrique asked Carmen if she would marry him.

“I was shocked,” Carmen said, through the interpretation of Father Martin Rodriguez, administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville.

Father Rodriguez interpreted Enrique’s reasoning: “I said, ‘You know, your personality and my personality are very much alike—why don’t we just get married?’ ”

Carmen’s and Enrique’s parents talked and decided the two could date for two years, spending time together only in Carmen’s home when her parents were present. If after two years they felt called to marriage, then they could get married.

During the two years, the couple only shared one date outside of Carmen’s home. Father Rodriguez interpreted the story as she told it:

“We went to see this really long movie, The Sound of Music. My mom stayed at the door waiting for us because we were late, and the movie was so long. She said, ‘That’s it. You’re never going out alone again.’ It was the last time we went out by ourselves.”

The Hurtados credit their ability to get to know each other over the course of two years as a source of their lasting love.

“You have to fall in love not with the physicality of the person, but with the interior of the person,” said Carmen. “That’s what helped us—to get to know each other interiorly first.”

Enrique also advises couples to “look out for the happiness of the other and not for yourself.”

After 50 years, six children and 12 grandchildren, Carmen said she is indeed very happy.

“When we were younger, [Enrique] said, ‘I want to get married to you and be married when we are very old.’ ”

She smiled broadly as she said, “Recently he told me, ‘I have done it.’ ”

(The next Mass celebrating marriage will be the Marriage Day Celebration Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 12 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The Mass is in honor of all marriages, with special recognition of those married 60 years or more. Registration is required. For more information or to register, visit, or call 800-382-9836, ext. 1521, or 317-236-1521.)

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