In June of this year, Eddie and Norma Pozo will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary and, according to this young-at-heart couple, theirs has been fairy-tale romance, which began its first chapter in New York City during World War II.
Eddie, who was born in the United States to Spanish parents, met his future wife not long after she and her family migrated to the U.S. from their native Dominican Republic. It was love at first sight, recounted Norma, who was anxious to marry her “bon bon.” Feeling she was too young, her parents asked the couple to wait.
So Norma became a military fiancée, who waited impatiently for her Navy solider to return home from his WWII tour of duty. After his homecoming, the young lovebirds married, and they went on to have three children (though, tragically, one died at the age of 36), five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
“We have been very happy,” said Norma, who believes their Catholic faith has helped create a solid foundation for their enduring marriage and unwavering devotion. “I have been very in love with my husband my entire life, and hopefully God will give us a few more years together.”
Asked his secret for a lasting marriage, Eddie smiled and looked at his wife.
“She’s had a lot of patience with me, and I’ve had a lot for her as well,” he said
The Pozos were among more than 100 long-married couples from across the archdiocese — each celebrating significant milestone anniversaries in 2015, from 25 years to 60 or more, like the Pozos — who gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Feb. 8 to celebrate their sacred unions on World Marriage Day.
More than 60 couples joined Cathedral pastor Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik for the 10 a.m. Mass in English, and nearly 50 couples were on hand for the 12:30 p.m. Spanish-language Mass with Archbishop José Gomez. During the liturgy, the participating couples were invited to stand, hold hands and face one another as they recited a short wedding vow renewal and then had their marriages blessed.
According to Archbishop Gomez, this year World Marriage Day has special significance because the Church is readying for a special visit from Pope Francis, who will travel to Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families. Then in October at the Vatican, the pope will host the Synod of Bishops on “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.”
“Pope Francis wants to remind us that marriage is at the center of God’s plan for the world,” said Archbishop Gomez during his homily. “Today, as we celebrate these special wedding anniversaries, we are also celebrating the fact that marriage and the family are at the center of God’s design for humanity. … But, as we know, [and as] Pope Francis has stated, ‘Marriage and family are in crisis today.’”
That crisis, said the archbishop, is rooted in a modern-day culture that tries to teach us that nothing in life is permanent or ever-lasting. Embracing this negative mentality can lead people to devalue the sanctity of marriage, and believe it is not worth the effort that is required to sustain a life-long relationship, he explained.
“Married life and family life require that each person make an effort to think of others first,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Let us make our homes places where affection and love reign, a place where each person wants the best for each other.”
Our homes, he continued, should be filled with patience, understanding, humor and, above all else, forgiveness — knowing how to ask for it as well as grant it.
Dora and Fausto Giordano, who have two grown sons, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary later this month. They described their shared Catholic faith as “a fundamental part of our family.” That faith, together with love and respect, are the glue that “strengthens and unites us,” as both a couple and a family, said Dora.
“We have the presence of God in our lives every day, because without Him we couldn’t have achieved such a long successful marriage,” said Fausto, who attends Holy Redeemer Church, Montrose. “We always need the divine blessing of God.”
Celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February, World Marriage Day honors the “faithfulness, sacrifice and joy” of daily married life. Now in its 40th consecutive year, World Marriage Day received the Apostolic Blessing of Pope John Paul II in 1993.