Brisbane couples share joys and blessings of long marriages – The Catholic Leader

FAITH is “everything” to Allan and Jenny Hogan, who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a dozen other couples at St Stephen’s Cathedral on September 27.

Brisbane couples share joys and blessings of long marriages – The Catholic Leader

The Hogans said they were “grateful for the life and blessings we’ve received” over the last 50 years. 

Mr and Mrs Hogan married at All Saints’ Church, Liverpool on September 4, 1971.

They met at Australian National University in Canberra. 

The men’s college was on one side of the campus and the women’s college on the other but in the centre was St Pope John XXIII Chapel, where they both went for Sunday Mass.

They became “great mates”, things fell into place, and they were married.

“We’ve always believed and lived with the third person in our marriage, which is Christ,” Mrs Hogan said.

“It’s just part and parcel of who we are.”

Mr Hogan said in the early days of their relationship, especially in the tumultuous 1960s on a university campus, they connected over “shared values of faith” and “we could see the beauty of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, and that has been an important part of who we are”.

“It all stems back to this respect for life and each other,” he said.

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The Hogans said the Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass was “moving”, especially the chance to see other couples celebrating long marriages.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who celebrated the Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass, said in his homily that all love begins with listening. 

“It starts with the ear,” he said.

He said it was about getting out of the echo chamber and into a place where you could really listen to another person.

“Over time, if we can listen deeply to another (person), then two voices become one,” he said.

That is what 50 years of marriage celebrates, he said, that two voices have become a single voice.

He said it involved “blood, sweat, and tears” but “in that union, we hear the voice of God”.

“That’s why we celebrate not just human love – it is an intensely human love we celebrate – but we also celebrate a divine love that doesn’t stay up in a heaven light years away but a divine love that takes flesh… in the flesh of a marriage that lasts 50 or more years.”

Another couple at the Mass, Patty and James Eckersley, celebrated 60 years of marriage on September 23.

Wise advice: Patty and James Eckersley celebrated 60 years marriage on September 23.

This was their fifth time at the Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass.

The couple wed at St Mary Magdalene at Bardon.

They had met years earlier at a Mater Dance and courted for four years.

The pair travelled and were pen pals for a time, before finally meeting up again and tying the knot.

Mr Eckersley said faith was “a core component to their marriage”.

Mrs Eckersley said she and her husband always had a strong faith and that had been the “background of our family life”. 

“Amidst all the changes in the Church, we found some of those a bit bumpy and rocky along the lines, but it’s like any change – society’s changed, everything’s changed – and we’ve been lucky we’ve been able to roll with that and see our faith as underlying all that,” she said.

She said the politics of religion had derailed many faithful over the years but “we always thought we were lucky to go back to our grass roots and have that as our foundation”.

Mrs Eckersley said respect, communication and celebrating the other person’s differences were important to a strong marriage.

“And of course, love is at the base of it,” she said.

Mr Eckersley said it was essential to “try to give more and more to your spouse” spiritually, mentally, and physically. 

“If you both do that, it makes a strong foundation.”

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