By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Sunday, February 12th was a special day for many people at St. Ann Catholic Church in Shinnston. On that day, twenty couples – both young and old – renewed their marriage vows.
Father Tom Dagle says he has done this before at other parishes where he has served and it was always successful, so he utilized this occasion to simultaneously celebrate both Valentine’s Day and World Marriage Day and asked parishioners for their support. Saying that he hoped to have ten couples participate, he was pleased to get twice the response!
Tying the knot the first time, couples typically think of nothing but living “happily ever after”, but through the years they often witness a few aggravating bad habits, little annoying idiosyncrasies, and may experience a few not-so-blissful bumps in the road. But couples who return to the altar for a second time with the same partner to reaffirm their commitment to one another is a very happy occasion and a reason to celebrate! That is what transpired on February 12th.
One hundred and seventy people were in attendance; family members gathered to witness the exchange of vows. All couples gathered at the altar, faced one another and held hands, and in unison, repeated their vows to their partners. Following the ceremony, everyone adjourned to the social hall for a group reception where finger foods and punch were served.
St. Ann Catholic Church is fortunate to have a group of ladies who work diligently to plan fund-raising dinners and special events like this one. And they went the extra mile to make it a memorable occasion. Valentine’s Day, fortunately, gave them plenty of opportunities for a romantic theme.
The hall was decorated with Valentine’s Day decor, and each family had its own table where children and grandchildren could enjoy the celebration. On each table was a heart-shaped cake for the couples and their families to enjoy. Each couple also received a framed certificate denoting the renewal of their commitment to one another.
Bob and Ann Riley were among those who participated. Ann commented, “This had never been done in our church before and it was truly a very special day. Of course, because we have so many children and grandchildren, we had to have two tables,” she added jokingly, “but it was so nice to have them there.”
Participants Frank and Martie Pulice said “I Do” for the second time as well. Married for 67 years, they would have claimed the prize for the couple married the longest.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Jimmy and Pam Gemondo, who were married on February 15, 1992 and would be celebrating their silver anniversary in just three days!
Shinnston residents John and Marie Marchio, along with one of their daughters and her husband, Mickey and Gina Tate, renewed their vows at the same time … as did brothers Sam (and Lisa) and John (and Roberta) DeMarco.
It was a very special occasion for those who participated and set a wonderful example for the couples’ children that lifetime commitments truly do exist.
Father Dagle confirmed that a celebration like this was certainly worth the effort. “It is something I would do again, but probably not every year in the same parish or it would not gather this kind of response – unless couples requested it. But it was a wonderful reason for families to gather together.”
Those renewing their vows included: Sam & Lisa DeMarco, Mickey & Gina Tate, Jimmy & Pam Gemondo, Jim & Peggy Matish, Jimmy & Anna Mazzei, Frank & Martie Pulice, William & Marianne Strugarek, Joe & Sharon Sears, Steven & Cynthia Bee, John & Roberta DeMarco, Robert & Carolyn Potesta, Jim & Mary McDowell, TJ & Elizabeth Wright, John & Marie Marchio, Nathan & Dana Harold, William & Sandy McDonnell, Robert & Ann Riley, Walter & Pat Post, Donnie & Pam Sabatelli, and John & Kay Belcastro.