Father Jim Grogan kneels before the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour for Marriage.
Father Jim Grogan kneels before the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour for Marriage.
Father James Grogan had an important message for all the couples who participated in the Holy Hour for Marriage

“As we gather to celebrate wedding anniversaries, each of you are living testaments to the sacred dignity of marriage,” he said. “You witness the Gospel in your life and in your love.

Photo Gallery: Holy Hour for Marriage

The Holy Hour, which was held Oct. 25 in Nativity Church, Fair Haven, where Father Grogan serves as pastor, drew 50 married couples from the parish community and beyond, allowing for social distancing among the congregation. In addition, hundreds of couples took part online, as the celebration was also livestreamed on diocesan websites and social media platforms as well as the Nativity Parish Facebook page.

The Holy Hour for Marriage was organized by the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life after COVID-19 forced the postponement of the annual Bishop’s Anniversary Blessings Mass to 2021.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., shared his congratulations and an anniversary blessing to couples in a pre-recorded message.    

“Each year as Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I look forward to celebrating milestone anniversaries of marriage with couples from throughout the four counties of the Diocese,” he said. “As with so many other things this year that have been a regular part of Church life, the annual diocesan celebration of the blessing of married couples on their first, 25th, 50th will be different this year. Although we cannot be physically present with each other as we have in the past, please know that you are not far from my mind and heart. I offer you my prayers and heartfelt congratulations on this beautiful occasion in your lives.

“We can enjoy this virtual Holy Hour for Marriage livestream throughout the Diocese,” Bishop O’Connell continued. “Calling to mind all the joys and challenges of your married lives together during the past one, 25, 50 or more years, I invite you to join me in prayer,” he said, and offered an anniversary blessing for the couples.

The Holy Hour included Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, liturgical music, a homily by Father Grogan, and praise and worship. Prayers of the Faithful were read by couples celebrating those milestone anniversaries.

In his brief homily, Father Grogan took a moment to reflect on the “Gloria.”

“The ‘Gloria’ is proclaimed at every Mass when the Mass is designated as a solemnity,” he explained. “Of course, every Sunday is a solemnity, Christmas is a solemnity, the Solemnity of our Blessed Mother on January 1. I make this point because in 2016 when the bishops revised the Rite for Marriage, they added the ‘Gloria’ to every wedding Mass. And that makes the marriage elevated to the equivalent of the highest rating feast days in our Church life. Personally, I like that designation.

“As we gather to celebrate wedding anniversaries,” Father Grogan continued, “each of you, here in person and participating over the livestream, are living testaments to the sacred dignity of marriage. You witness the Gospel in your life and in your love.”

Patricia Meyer-Cuje and Walter Cuje of Nativity Parish met each other at church and celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this year. They had both been married for a number of years before their spouses passed away. Walter Cuje had even received a 50th anniversary blessing with his first wife before she passed.

“We’re oldies but goldies,” Patricia Meyer-Cuje joked.

The couple said it was important for them to be at the Holy Hour, as their faith is at the center of their marriage.

“We’re celebrating our fifth anniversary so what better way to celebrate? We met here and were married here,” Patricia Cuje shared, then offered her words of advice in keeping a sacramental marriage. “Always keep God present."

Shawn and Karen Ann Lenahan of Nativity Parish, married for 30 years, were pleased to participate in the Holy Hour for Marriage with other couples in the Diocese.

“This is a milestone anniversary for us, and we wanted to recognize the Sacrament, what it means to us, and share that with people who are of like mind and respect the Sacrament as we do,” Shawn Lenahan said.

At the conclusion of the Holy Hour, Father Grogan spoke of the Sacrament and acknowledged its significance during these trying times.

“When we gather like this, we really see the depth and the durability and the sacredness of couples who have lived that covenant of Holy Matrimony,” he said. “And I hope that the couples who were able to celebrate at home, they see that even during a pandemic the Church is so blessed by them and so grateful for their witness to the covenant of marriage, and we continue to offer our prayers to each of those couples,” he said.

One of those couples who participated virtually was Grace and Hugh Brennan from Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake. The Brennans have been married for 63 years.

“The Holy Hour was wonderful, the singing was beautiful,” Grace remarked and credited her faith for the longevity of her marriage. “We have a large family – six children, 28 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We are very blessed.”