COVID-19 may have postponed the annual Bishop’s Anniversary Blessings Masses, but a number of marriage-related activities are taking place in the coming weeks to recognize couples celebrating one, 25, 50 or more years of marriage in 2020.

Throughout October, the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life will be posting special resources on its Facebook and diocesan webpages, each geared toward first, 25th and 50-plus anniversary couples. These celebratory posts and webpages will culminate Oct. 25 with a livestreamed Holy Hour for Marriage broadcast from Nativity Parish, Fair Haven.

The Holy Hour, which runs from 3 to 4 p.m., will be held outdoors, weather permitting, with Father James Grogan, pastor, presiding. Anniversary couples as well as those from Nativity and Cohort parishes are invited to attend, though most are encouraged to take part virtually due to social distancing and safety protocols. All married couples in the Diocese are invited to prayerfully participate online, with special acknowledgement being given to the milestone anniversaries.

The Holy Hour will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical music, praise and worship. Prayers will be read by selected married couples from around the Diocese who represent each of the milestone years. There will also be Intercessory Prayers offered for the different stages of marriage – engaged couples, newly married, parents and those who have been married most of their lives.

“When I prepare couples for marriage, I speak with each one about the potential for an ‘extraordinary marriage,’ which involves three ‘demands’ made by the couple,” Father Grogan said. First, couples must take it upon each other to achieve “extraordinary”; then they must make the “demand” upon God in prayer to give them the grace to grow into an extraordinary marriage. For the third, he said, “I tell them they should make demands of the Church for the support and tools to make extraordinary their reality.”

“This Holy Hours is one of those tools, and it is something that our Church needs by way of encouraging prayer as central in the growth and nurturing of marriage,” he said. “Taking nothing away from the celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass, it is good to invite couples to return to some of our older rituals, such as Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, and this Holy Hour will do exactly that for anniversary couples.”

Concerning the special web resources that will be posted during October, Peg Hensler, associate director of the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, explained that three new webpages have been created – one each for first, 25th and 50-plus anniversaries. Each page, which is geared toward Catholic marriage, includes ideas for celebrating the particular anniversary; a “walk down memory lane” that depicts what life was like the year the couples were married; “Inspiration and Tools for the Journey” books, articles, videos and websites on various marriage-related topics, and “A Note on Catholic Marriage” that focuses on what is unique about each stage of marriage and suggestions on getting involved in the parish. All information can be found at

“It’s a way for couples to take time out of the daily grind and be intentional about reliving and recalling all the hopes, dreams and wonders of their wedding day,” Hensler said.

Starting Oct. 4, posts on the department’s diocesan Facebook page will feature images and quotes directed toward first-year anniversary couples. Similar posts will be made on Oct. 11, geared for 25th anniversary couples; Oct. 18 for 50th, and Oct. 25 for anniversaries 51 years and more.

Because the annual Bishop’s Anniversary Blessings were postponed for 2020, Hensler also reiterated that all couples celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2020 will be invited to next year’s Anniversary Blessings Masses, scheduled for Oct. 3, 2021, for Burlington and Mercer Counties, and Oct. 10, 2021, for Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“We want to emphasize the importance of observing wedding anniversaries for couples because, as may relationship experts agree, making the wedding anniversary a priority is good for marriages – all marriages,” Hensler said.