Celebrating Their Love And Marriage • Among the couples who enjoyed the “Dinner For Two” event in Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton, were Vince and Peg Vizzard. The evening was a parish celebration for World Marriage Day. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photos

Celebrating Their Love And Marriage • Among the couples who enjoyed the “Dinner For Two” event in Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton, were Vince and Peg Vizzard. The evening was a parish celebration for World Marriage Day. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photos

By Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese | Correspondent

The lights were low, the candles were lit and romantic music was playing in the background as 35 couples celebrated their love Feb. 11 in Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton.

The evening was the second year the parish has held a “Dinner for Two” celebration in recognition of World Marriage Day, which is observed the second Sunday of February.

Mary Neary, director of parish ministries and family faith matters in Sacred Heart, said that in addition to providing a reflection of their marriages, the event is meant to strengthen each couples’ connection with the parish community.

“It’s important that the couples get to know one another on a parish level,” Neary said. “We want to show them [couples] that marriage does work.”

This year, the diverse group of dinner companions ranged from a newly engaged couple to one married nearly six decades. The couples were treated to a full-course meal followed by a reflection by Deacon Michael Stinsman, after which they took a recommitment of vows and received a signed certificate commemorating the event. The evening was topped off with dancing to the couples’ wedding songs and other special tunes.

Members of neighboring parishes were also invited to the event.

Maureen and Mike Barone of Cinnaminson will celebrate their silver wedding anniversary in March.

“Fidelity, compassion, loyalty, respect, faith, family and a deep love” are key to a successful marriage, said Maureen Barone, noting that she and her husband are parents to two sons and a daughter, who is married with children.

“She already has it together,” Maureen Barone said of her daughter’s marriage. “I still learn from her.”

This is the second “Dinner for Two” for the Barones, who belong to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson. “We came last year,” Maureen Barone said. “It was just lovely. The best part was renewing your vows.”

Tatiana Saltos, 24, and Sam Shapiro, 28, are engaged to be married in 2019. Saltos, who lives in Palmyra, joined Sacred Heart Parish just four months ago and is enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process at the parish.

“I wanted to have that type of religious guidance through my engagement,” she said. Shapiro, who is Jewish, said it was important for him to support Saltos through her religious journey.

“It may be out of my comfort zone,” he admitted, “but everyone’s been so nice.”

Parish pastor Father Robert Holtz said it’s important that the couples “share their marriage experiences as a community and bring God into their interactions with each other.”

Last year, Sacred Heart Parish started a Mentor Couples ministry in which married parishioners welcome engaged couples to come together in their homes to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. The informal setting provides a relaxed atmosphere where the engaged couples can broach more in-depth topics and establish a deeper connection with the parish community.

“Mentor couples have been very instrumental in getting the younger couples involved,” Neary said.

Inspiring a younger generation is important for parishioners Joanne and Dennis Moore of Palmyra, who have been married 25 years and have two daughters, one of whom is engaged.

“We want her to see that marriage is important and so is being involved in the Church,” said Joanne Moore, who is a parish secretary in Sacred Heart.

Peg and Vince Vizzard were noted as being the longest married couple at the dinner.

Peg Vizzard credits her 59 years of marriage to God’s help, the couple’s faith and the fact that they “work together as a team” for their successful marriage. Vince Vizzard said a sense of humor is helpful, too, adding that one should learn to “roll with the punches.”

For Peg Vizzard, married life has been a blessing. “It’s fulfilled my life,” she said of her marriage, noting that she and her husband have nine children and 31 grandchildren. “He’s a wonderful husband and father.”

“It’s something like a ball game,” Vince Vizzard said of marriage. “You play within the rules.”

“Respect is a big thing,” his wife added, “for each other and the children.”

Deacon Stinsman, who will celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary this year, pointed out that God made marriage the first Sacrament with his pairing of Adam and Eve.

“We try to encourage the couples to just be real about married life, the blessings and the difficulties,” he said, adding that couples should surround themselves with other good marriages as a support system.