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Hundreds celebrate milestone anniversaries at special mass

A special mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception honored couples throughout the Archdiocese of Washington, most who have been married a range of years — from at least 25 years, up to 75 years of marriage.

WASHINGTON — There were no balls and chains in sight, just songs, prayers and praise for staying hitched for so many years.

A special mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception honored couples throughout the Archdiocese of Washington, most who have been married a range of years — from at least 25 years, up to 75 years of marriage.

Together, these couples represent more than 33,000 years of marriage throughout the Archdiocese of Washington, which covers Washington D.C., and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland.

During Sunday’s mass Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said nearly 800 couples showed up to celebrate their landmark anniversaries.

Each couple has their own formula for marital success, but unselfishness and communication were a theme among the couples.

Alphonso and Joan Hearns have been married 55 years. Alphonso said their secret is understanding each other’s wants and dislikes.

He also credited “having a real religious background, too. I mean, you have to believe in something,” he said.

Joan said even when children come into the mix, “you still put each other first.”

Kurt and Marian Winters, also married 55 years, sat one row ahead of the Hearns. Marian also said it’s key to put your spouse first in order to maintain a marriage. Kurt added that a marital union is similar to other relationships.

“Just like you get along with other people, too, but you’re a little more intimate and it’s constant when you’re married,” Kurt said.

Another couple topping the 50-year mark: John and Karen Vittone. John’s secret to their 54-years together? “I never tried to think of a secret,” he said.

“I think communication,” Karen said. “And also, divorce was never an option,” she added.

Wuerl said marking such milestones is important “for everybody to see the beauty of enduring human love. Particularly today, I think it’s very good for young people to see that marriage works.”


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