The annual Bishop’s Anniversary Blessings for Catholic married couples celebrating first, 25th, 50th or more wedding anniversaries in the Diocese of Trenton will look different this year.

For the first time since 1963, when Bishop George W. Ahr introduced the annual celebration of milestone wedding anniversaries, our anniversary couples from around the Diocese will not be able to gather in person. The global pandemic may prevent us from celebrating in traditional ways, but it will not stop us from creating new ways to honor the significance and sacred character of Holy Matrimony and all those anniversary couples who deserve our recognition and gratitude. 

First, we are pleased to share the selection of dates from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for the 2021 Anniversary Blessings events (provided they can be held safely) – Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, for Mercer and Burlington County parishes in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, and Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, for Ocean and Monmouth County parishes in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.

To ensure that all anniversary couples have an opportunity to receive his blessing in person, Bishop O’Connell is extending his invitation to all couples who will celebrate their first or second anniversary in 2021, their 25th or 26th anniversary, and as always, their 50th or more anniversary. Plans are already underway to make the post-anniversary Mass reception even more festive with live music and some special marriage and family activities that reflect the wonderful diversity of our Church today.

The original dates for this year’s anniversary blessings events were Sundays, Oct. 4 and Oct. 25. With these dates already set aside for marriage, the Department of Evangelization and Family Life is planning various marriage-related activities for anniversary couples in the Diocese of Trenton during the month of October 2020.

One of the ideas we are most excited about is the launch of three special webpages, currently under construction, one for each milestone anniversary – first, 25th and 50th. Each page will feature a segment titled, “A Walk Down Memory Lane.” Couples will be invited to reminisce and relive that wonderful day when they first became husband and wife, and to consider life as it was the year they were married. These webpages will highlight the blessings of married life with creative ideas for celebrating each milestone anniversary in special ways.

Dr. Gary Smalley of the Focus on the Family organization and well-known marriage specialist, writes of the importance of wedding anniversaries for married couples, saying, “Celebrating an anniversary shows that marriage is a priority in our life. It gives us a chance to pull back from the daily grind and relive a moment that changed our life forever.”

Dr. Smalley and other marriage experts agree that celebrating each wedding anniversary is just as important as the wedding day itself.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is deeply connected to our Catholic faith and part of God’s plan for salvation. Even a pandemic cannot stop us from celebrating the amazing gift of Catholic marriage.

For the latest updates and information on Anniversary Blessings activities for October 2020, visit www.dioceseoftrenton.org/bishops-anniversary-blessing.

Peg Hensler is the diocesan associate director of marriage ministries and NFP in the Department of Evangelization and Family Life.