‘God was there’: L.A. couples celebrate World Marriage Day

To mark this year’s World Marriage Day, more than 50 couples renewed their wedding vows at two Masses presided by Archbishop José H. Gomez at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Before renewing their vows at the day’s Spanish Mass, two couples sat down with Angelus to talk about their lives and the role of faith in their marriages.

Their answers have been translated from Spanish and edited for brevity. 

How did you first meet?

Onesimo Ramirez: In fiestas they would have in our town in Mexico, many of us would get together. I saw her for the first time at one. She was 15, and I said, “I’m not letting this one get away.” So we started talking and stayed close until we got married. And now I’m going to turn 100 years old, and she’s 91. We’ve had three marriage celebrations: our wedding day, our 50th anniversary and today our 75th anniversary. 

Alejandrina Sanchez: Working as a young woman, my co-workers and I were always looking for places to have lunch, and one day we went to a restaurant near my job where he worked as a busboy. He says that since he noticed me that day, the rest is history. 

What impact has your faith had on your marriage?

Lucina Ramirez: We’ve never left the Church and always gone to Mass every week. It has made praying and observing different devotions something pleasant for us. We ask God and Our Lady of Guadalupe to send us help in the pains of old age, that he take care of us and protect us. I’ve had seven operations, but thanks to God, and to my husband and the Virgin Mary, I’m still here!

Alejandrina: Our faith has had an enormous impact on our marriage. We started going to church together when we were dating, including here at La Placita Olvera to visit Our Lady Queen of the Angels. We were also involved in youth groups, and since Alberto was an orphan, he wasn’t raised with many principles. 

He grew up with God’s help, and part of that was his decision to share my beliefs. Since we got married, we’ve always tried to serve in the Church. Although I see people who leave for other denominations nowadays, I can say that I would never change my Catholic faith for anything.

What’s helped you the most in difficult times during your married life?

Lucina: Our children love us, appreciate us and give us everything. There’s not much we can do at this age. We also have friends who have been there to give us a hand when things got tough. That’s why we’re so happy, and maybe it’s also why we’ve lived for a few years (chuckling). 

Alejandrina: Love for God. Because we’ve experienced that God never abandons us. Even though we offend him sometimes, he always forgives us and takes us back. There are so many moments in our lives where he showed his love and mercy and we can look back and say, “God was there.”

What’s the key to a long and successful marriage?

Onesimo: To be constantly talking to each other about everything; also, our children and our friends, who appreciate us a lot and give us advice that enlightens our minds. We’re happy and we don’t get upset with others, especially not with our children and friends. I think that’s what’s made us always feel loved by others in return. 

Alejandrina: A few things. Approaching marriage as something that’s for the rest of your life is important. Also, loving your children while understanding that we can’t be the ones to always solve their problems, but we can still pray for them.  

Another thing is persevering when life isn’t easy. Alberto would work 14-hour shifts as a truck driver and sometimes my girls wouldn’t see him since they’d be asleep when he came and went. Sometimes he’d call me from a payphone on the side of the road at 2 a.m. just to talk to me. If I had been impatient with the situation, I wouldn’t have made it.  

What would you say to a young couple thinking about marriage?

Onesimo: Things are very different nowadays. I would tell a young man this: Always treat your future wife with respect, or else you will end up in a living hell. Speak to each other constantly and don’t get angry, so that things don’t escalate. 

Alejandrina: I don’t think it’s a matter of telling today’s youths things. You can tell a young person not to do something until you’re blue in the face, but they still might do it. The best we can do is show them our example, and let them see it and decide for themselves.