By Theresia Titus
Married couples celebrating landmark anniversaries have gathered for Marriage Day Mass on 27 October at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton celebrated the Mass with concelebrants Cathedral Dean Fr Sean Fernandez, Assistant Priest Fr CJ Millen, Mgr Brian O’Loughlin, Fr Pierluigi Vajra CRS, and assisted by Deacon Trevor Lyra.
The Mass took on the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians 4:7-16 as the first reading, and Mark 4:35-41 as the Gospel.
Spearwood parishioners Angelo and Teresa Silvestri were acknowledged at the end of the Mass with Bishop Sproxton presenting their certificate for reaching their 70th anniversary.
Drawing on the main points of the First Reading and Gospel, Bishop Sproxton began his homily by sharing his story on his recent parish visitation.
“I came upon a man sitting in the sun, who greeted me with ‘buongiorno’,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“We began to chat, [and] I was surprised that he was so eager to tell me about his life.”
Bishop Sproxton said the man’s name was Filippo, who was sent by his family in Italy to live and work with his uncle in Australia when he was a teenager.
Filipo told Bishop Sproxton that eventually he purchased his own dairy farm in the south-west and worked hard to provide for his family, finally achieving his goal of giving his children the education he had never had the opportunity to have.
“Then he said a wonderful thing: ‘You know, I worked very hard, I did many things. I am proud of what I achieved. But what was the greatest thing was that God gave me the best thing: God blessed me with my wife’,” Bishop Sproxton continued.
“‘She was the greatest blessing in my life, and more than that He gave me my children. I am so proud of them; they came as the blessing of God. My wife and my children have been great gifts to me’.”
Bishop Sproxton added that Filipo was content and happy with the life he has lived and shared the question he pondered upon his conversation with Filipo: “how did he know what he should do to build the close, loving relationship with his wife?”
Bishop Sproxton believed it is Filipo’s experience of living with his family in Italy and then with uncle and aunty that had contributed to the answer to the question.
However, Bishop Sproxton emphasised that the answer to the question is by listening to the Gospel which helped Filipo in forming a relationship with God and made him learn how to trust “the goodness and mercy of God, especially in tough times”.
Bishop Sproxton continued his homily by going back to the letter of St Paul, asserting that “each of us having been given our own share of grace” which helps “us succeed as humans, as Christians, in our vocations of marriage, holy orders, religious life and the dedicated service some offer as singles”.
“He names a hierarchy of service that these gifts of grace create: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“He discerned that this hierarchy of services is meant to secure unity and build up the People of God.”
Bishop Sproxton remarked that “the grace that each receives is given for the good of all, as we grow to maturity, being more conformed to Christ”.
“The couples with us this morning have received the grace to succeed. We honour them today for their years of committed love,” he said.
“Those closest to them will be able to recognise their growth due to their support for one another and the challenge they give to one another.
“These couples have reached milestones in their journey through life together. Their experiences can be of great assistance to the young couples beginning their married life, as well as those who are well into their journey,” he continued.
Bishop Sproxton concluded his homily by thanking the work of Catholic Marriage and Fertility Service under the leadership of Derek Boylen as Director, which could be enhanced by the involvement of couples celebrating their marriage anniversaries.
“Your experiences and encouragement could bring reassurance and confidence to many others.
Let me return to Filipo sitting in the sun, contented, deeply grateful to his loving God.
“This would be the blessing that each of us seeks having walked with God, hand in hand with our spouse,” he concluded, addressing the married couples.