A couple kneels with hands in prayer during the annual Mass in the Cathedral celebrating wedding anniversaries for faithful across the Diocese of Trenton. Craig Pittelli photo

A couple kneels with hands in prayer during the annual Mass in the Cathedral celebrating wedding anniversaries for faithful across the Diocese of Trenton. Craig Pittelli photo

By Rose O’Connor and Lois Rogers, Correspondents

After receiving blessings from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and being enveloped in the warmth of the greater Church community and supported by families and friends, couples mingled with one another at receptions after both Anniversary Blessings Masses, recalling stories of love and faith.

The sentiments that follow are among those shared by those celebrating their first, silver, golden and more anniversaries as they discussed their stories, the Sacrament of Marriage and how their Catholic faith plays a significant role in their lives as a couple.

Brenda and Nicholas Ponzio from St. Veronica Parish, Howell, celebrated their first anniversary in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral. Both were widowed, with Brenda previously married 50 years and Nicholas for 35. “There’s always going to be highs and lows,” Brenda said. “Always remember your vows and keep your faith.”

Josie and Don Castaldo of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, basked in the joy of celebrating their 62nd anniversary on the actual date of their wedding, Oct. 21, in the Trenton Cathedral. “This was a surprise for me,” Josie said. “He told me he would like to sign up for the Mass on our anniversary.”

Don broke into a wide grin. “I’m the romantic. I remember all the dates,” he said, vividly recalling the couple’s first date, including what Josie wore: a peach-colored dress with a beaded bodice.

Sonya and Martin LiPera from St. Clement Parish, Matawan, spoke of the need for prayer in marriage during the Oct. 7 Mass in the Freehold Co-Cathedral. “You need lots of prayer. When you’re married for 25 years, you pray a lot,” Sonya said.

Mary and Michael Galley were happy to share what celebrating their first-year milestone meant to them. The couple, who traveled from their residence in Pennsylvania for Mass in Trenton, were married in St. Paul Church, Burlington, a worship site of St. Katharine Drexel Parish.

“It was very important for us to be married in the Catholic Church. We both grew up Catholic and we want to keep the Church a part of our life,” Michael said.

They said a marriage grounded in faith during the “critical moments and at all times” is “very important,” especially as they look forward to starting a family.

Christina and Karl Schuetz of Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune, celebrated 50 years of married life in the Co-Cathedral.

“It wasn’t until recently [that] I realized I could ask our Lord for the blessings of the Sacrament of Marriage,” Christina said. “You preserve because God is with you and part of the marriage.”

• After 50 years of marriage, Jack and Jane Rodeschin of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, still see the hand of God at work in their marriage. “We met at the World’s Fair in 1964 on a blind date,” Jack said during the reception in the Cathedral. 

Jane recalled that 15 years ago, their world turned upside down when Jack suffered a ruptured aorta and nearly died. “The way I look at it, [his recovery] was a true miracle,” she said. Coming to the Cathedral to receive a blessing and reaffirm their vows was absolutely the best way to celebrate it, they said.